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Most Indians support action on global warming, favour net zero by 2070 – Yale-CVoter survey – EQ

Most Indians support action on global warming, favour net zero by 2070 – Yale-CVoter survey – EQ


In Short : Most Indians support action on global warming and favor achieving net zero by 2070, according to a Yale-CVoter survey. This widespread backing highlights the nation’s commitment to addressing climate change and pursuing sustainable development goals.

In Detail : Report finds that 92% of the 2000+ polled want job training in renewables industry.

New Delhi : Most Indians part of a survey say they are experiencing global warming and are worried about its impacts on their lives, according to a new report released by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC).

The study, titled Climate Change In The Indian Mind 2023 released Friday, indicated robust support for India’s net zero emissions target by 2070, with over 80 percent of participants in favour, recognising its potential to mitigate global warming.

However, the report also highlighted a general lack of awareness about global warming, as more than half of the respondents admitted having minimal knowledge of the issue.

The YPCCC — a research centre within the Yale School of the Environment — and CVoter, a Delhi-based polling agency, surveyed 2,178 Indian adults in 2023 and examined public opinion, knowledge of global warming, perceived risks, and support for governmental policies addressing climate change. This is YPCCC’s third survey — the first conducted in 2011 and another in 2022.

Although only 10 percent claimed they “know a lot” about global warming, 78 percent acknowledge its occurrence after explaining what it means.

Furthermore, the report also dived into the specifics and found that 76 percent of respondents understood that changing weather patterns were caused by global warming.

As for the impact of global warming, it was most acutely felt by Indians through environmental hazards like agricultural diseases, extinction of plant species, air pollution, famine, cyclones and floods.

“India is already experiencing climate impacts, from record heatwaves to severe floods to stronger storms,” Dr Anthony Leiserowitz, the YPCCC director and co-author of the study, stated in a press release. “While many in India still do not know much about global warming, they overwhelmingly think the climate is changing and are worried about it.”

Notably, 85 percent of those surveyed expressed concern over air pollution and heatwaves. This comes at a time when a World Weather Attribution report has predicted much higher chances of extreme heatwaves in South Asia during April as a result of climate change.

About the survey

The survey — with 52 percent male and 48 percent female participants — used a nationally representative sample that used information from the National Census to decide its demographic parameters and sample size. The parameters included age, sex, education, income, religion, caste, and urban/rural residence.

Conducted over two months (September 5, 2023 – November 1, 2023) via computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) and translated into 12 languages, including English, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu — the survey catered to the respondents’ geographic location.

The educational qualifications of the respondents varied, with 20 percent having completed middle school and 6 percent holding post-graduate degrees. On the income earning parameter, 11 percent of the respondents earned less than Rs 2.5 lakh a year, while about 5 percent earned over Rs 83.3 lakh a year.

Meanwhile, a significant portion of respondents (54 percent) belonged to the Other Backward Classes. As many as 24 percent of respondents were from central India, 4 percent were from the northeast and 23 percent were from the southern part of the country.

Dr Jagadish Thaker, one of the authors of the study and a professor at the University of Queensland, said that there are a few limitations to this study, as with all studies.

“What matters is how representative the sample is of the population and the scientific method, such as random sampling, used to recruit the participants,” he told ThePrint.

He added that the choice of conducting telephonic surveys is backed by information from the latest National Family Health Survey that says 93 percent of Indians own a mobile phone.

Support for govt intervention

Given India’s position in the global economy and the fact that Indians make up 18 percent of the global population, the Yale report wanted to understand citizens’ responses to climate change issues.

Those surveyed expressed support for government intervention against global warming, with approximately 78 percent advocating for increased action. The report delved into the types of measures the public believes the government should implement to combat environmental issues.

The majority of them said that the government should have a programme to train people for jobs in the renewable energy industry, while 92 percent agreed that there should be a national programme to teach people about climate change. Almost 92 percent of respondents said that global warming was “personally important” to them.

Meanwhile, an overwhelming 87 percent of the respondents endorsed India’s international commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2070. Around the same number also said that reducing carbon emissions and transitioning to clean energy would reduce air pollution and global warming.

However, 61 percent of the respondents expressed concern over potential unemployment resulting from a shift to wind energy from coal.

Notably, three in four Indians surveyed were willing to pay more for an electric vehicle and energy-efficient appliances if it meant a reduction in global warming, while a majority (87 percent) was also willing to campaign to make leaders take action against global warming. Only around 6 percent of respondents said they would never join such campaigns.

The findings of this survey are also reflective of other previous polls and studies done to assess Indian attitudes to climate change. According to the 2019 and 2021 World Risk poll by Lloyd’s Register Foundation, 62 percent of Indians surveyed perceived climate change as a threat, while 37 percent saw it as a “very serious” threat to the country.

Anand Gupta Editor - EQ Int'l Media Network