12 Feb 2024, 13:33
Franca Quecke

Asians more prepared to spend on climate protection than Europeans — survey

Clean Energy Wire / Science Media Center

Over two thirds (69%) of the world's population are willing to contribute "1% of [their] household income every month to fight global warming," an international survey conducted by the University of Bonn and published in Nature Climate Change has found. The poll, conducted in 125 countries with nearly 130,000 participants, revealed major differences between countries in terms of how much their citizens were ready to contribute. At 40 to 49 percent of the population, the willingness to spend one percent of household income was relatively low in the USA, Canada and Russia, for example. At 60 to 69 percent, Germany, Poland, Brazil and India were in the middle of the field. The willingness in China and other Asian countries was relatively high, exceeding 80 percent.

Although two-thirds of respondents stated that they would be prepared to contribute one percent of their monthly income, they estimated that, on average, only 43 percent of their fellow citizens would be prepared to do the same. Thus, the researchers perceive a worldwide “state of pluralistic ignorance, wherein individuals around the globe systematically underestimate the willingness of their fellow citizens to act.” This “perception gap,” as the authors write, would pose challenges to further climate action. The countries included in the survey are responsible for 96 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and comprise 92 percent of the world's population. According to the scientists, people in countries that are particularly vulnerable to climate change show a strong willingness to make a contribution to climate protection themselves. 

Christine Merk from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, who was not involved in the research, told the Science Media Center that the high approval ratings in Asia could be the result of the generally stronger tendency to answer affirmatively in surveys in that region. She added that the question about willingness to give is very hypothetical and does not necessarily reveal how much people are really prepared to spend on this cause.

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