Climate as a priority
The environment maintain its position among the principal concerns, mostly due to by climate change ant its visible effects
At present, the majority of public opinion places Covid-19 at the top of their list of concerns (59%), ahead of the cost of living (47%), unemployment (45%), poverty/inequality (45%) and the healthcare system (43%). The environment nevertheless ranks 6th among concerns with a score of 39%. Among the countries that place the environment among their top 5 concerns: a large number of European states and large countries such as Canada, Australia, India and China.
Among the problems linked to the environment, climate change and its most visible consequence, extreme climate events, feature among the most worrying topics (just behind waste accumulation, packaging, plastic (48%) and air pollution (42%), also showing the biggest increases since 2019 (respectively 45% and 41%, +5 points) while scores for the other concerns have tended to drop). Note that the level of concern has not increased most in the countries that have experienced ecological disasters this year (USA, Australia, Russia), but in Turkey (+13), Indonesia (+12), and Sweden (+9) …
Priority should be given to the environment for a narrow majority
Hence, within a health crisis context, and despite a worsening economic situation, a little over a half (51%) of the public think that priority should be given to the environment, even if that could slow down economic growth in their country and cause job losses. This average score conceals some heavy disparities however. A few countries are highly favorable (+ 60%) to “green growth”: Colombia, Brazil, Chile, China, Turkey, Mexico, India. But in most countries, there is no absolute majority for that option and populations are split, notably across a social divide in which people on lower incomes remain attached to job-creating growth. Among the most divided countries, there are the USA, Nigeria and Indonesia…
Moreover, when populations are asked what they really think will happen in the months to come in their country, 59% of them seem convinced that decisions will tend to be made in favor of the economy to the detriment of the environment, as opposed to 26% who think the opposite. A perception doubtless exacerbated by the specific economic context linked to Covid-19.