What the global population thinks about climate change

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The United Nations Development Programme has conducted an online survey of 1.2 million people from 50 countries to hear their views on climate change. Food waste emerged as an important theme worldwide.

Renewable energy, conserving forest and land, and a transition to more sustainable transport were high on the list of policies that the surveyed population wanted to see prioritised. Also high was the adoption of climate-friendly farming techniques, though less so in countries dependent on large agricultural sectors.

Targeting food waste received more support than targeting energy waste. Plant-based diets received the least support of the policies posed in the survey, with 30% of respondents supportive.

The importance of climate change was greater in the minds of young people and decreased with age, but even in older age groups around 60% of respondents felt that climate change was a global emergency. Notably, almost half of the respondents were under the age of 18, the age group most likely to say that climate change is a global emergency in the survey. Thus, the overall results of the survey strongly reflect the feelings of younger generations.

The survey results largely reflect common discourse on climate change. The low popularity of plant-based diets to counter climate change, although often a feature in the scientific literature on sustainable nutrition, was unsurprising given the social importance of current omnivorous diets. More surprising and encouraging was the high popularity of reducing food waste, an area that shows great potential for improvement.

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