Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of the population of rich countries are concerned about climate change. In all countries, there are more concerns among women, youth and the highly educated. About 80 percent of all respondents said they would be willing to adapt their own lifestyle if doing so would reduce the effects of climate change. This is evident from an international poll conducted by the US Pew Research Center in seventeen Western countries, published this Tuesday.
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In most countries, the number of people saying they are ‘very concerned’ has increased since 2015. This is especially true for Germany (by 19 percentage points to 37 percent), followed by the United Kingdom and Australia. It was investigated in the spring, before Germany was hit hard this summer by torrential rains and severe flooding that killed more than 100 people and caused extensive damage.
The Japanese began to worry a little. In 2015, when the Pew Center conducted a similar survey, more than a third of the population still feared that climate change would have a significant impact on their personal lives. This year, that’s down to about a quarter. This is amazing, because in recent years Japan has often experienced intense precipitation, which led to floods, which scientists have linked to climate change. It is not clear how the comparison with six years ago will end for the Netherlands, because the Pew Center did not conduct any research here in 2015.
Remarkably, people in the Netherlands seem to be less concerned with the climate than in other countries. 59 percent of Dutch people expect to be affected somewhat (43 percent) or seriously (16 percent) by climate change in the future. Even in the United States (60 percent) and Australia (64 percent), countries with relatively high levels of climate skepticism, the concerns are greater.
Only in Sweden, where only 44 percent of the population believes global warming will affect life, are people more optimistic. There, a small majority of those surveyed assume that global warming will actually bring economic benefits to their country.
Among the Dutch who consider themselves ideologically right-wing, 59 percent are willing to adapt their lifestyle if necessary to prevent climate change. This is lower than in most other countries. In Belgium, for example, 67% of right-wingers are ready to adapt. Only in the United States is the desire for lifestyle changes lower among right-wing citizens (45 percent).
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More than half of the population of rich countries (56 percent) are reasonably satisfied with their country’s approach to climate change. In contrast, just over half (54 percent) think the international community as a whole is not doing enough to prevent climate change. Discontent is mainly with the United States (61 percent of all respondents) and China (78 percent). Highest level of confidence in EU policy (63%). But here too, a very small group (7 percent) describes the European approach as “very good”.
A version of this article also appeared in NRC Handelsblad on September 15, 2021
A version of this article also appeared in NRC on the morning of September 15, 2021
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