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[Sansad TV] Climate Change & Public Perception

  • The year 2021 marks a crucial juncture for charting the future of climate action.
  • And for this all eyes are set on two events in particular – the G20 Summit in October end followed by the 26th UN Climate Change Conference or COP26 in November.

In this article, we will discuss the significance of public perception on the issue of climate change and how will it impact the decision-making process on actions which need to be taken to tackle this challenge.

About G20

  • Formed in 1999, the G20 is an international forum of the governments and central bank governors from 20 major economies.
  • Collectively, the G20 economies account for around 85 percent of the Gross World Product (GWP), 80 percent of world trade.
  • To tackle the problems or address issues that plague the world, the heads of governments of the G20 nations periodically participate in summits.
  • In addition to it, the group also hosts separate meetings of the finance ministers and foreign ministers.
  • The G20 has no permanent staff of its own and its chairmanship rotates annually between nations divided into regional groupings.
  • India has been a member of the G20 since its inception in 1999.

Members: The 19 member countries of the forum are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States.

G20 countries map

G20 and Climate Change

  • The G20 accounts for over 80% of global GDP, 60% of the world’s population, and more than 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • In the run-up to the G20 Summit and COP26 the UNDP and the University of Oxford have published the G20 Peoples’ Climate Vote. 

The G20 Peoples’ Climate Vote

  • The G20 Peoples’ Climate Vote was polled over 689,000 people across 18 of the G20 countries from October 2020 until June 2021.
  • It focussed on various aspects of the issue of climate change including Climate Finance Policy, Cutting emissions and climate adaptation policy.
  • According to this report, on average 70 per cent of young people in G20 countries believe that we are in a global climate emergency.
  • Adults are also not far behind, with 65 percent overall believing the same.

What defines the public perception of climate change?

  • Climate change perception is a complex process that encompasses a range of psychological constructs such as knowledge, beliefs, attitudes and concerns about if and how the climate is changing.
  • Perception is influenced and shaped, among other things, by the individuals’ characteristics, their experience, the information that they receive, and the cultural and geographic context in which they live.
  • Therefore, measuring climate change perception and trying to find its determinants is not an easy task.
  • The short-term variations in the local weather tend to be more salient than long-term trends and hence can have a key impact on the formation of climate change perceptions.
  • The perceptions of those that directly depend on the weather, such as farmers, tend to be more accurate than that of their counterparts.
  • Life experiences influence perception; individuals who have been directly affected by extreme climatic events tend to report that the probability of such event happening again is relatively high.
  • It is important to make aware specifically those people whose livelihood is threatened due to climate change issue.
Proportion reporting knowing “something” or “a great deal” about global warming in 2007–08. Darker areas indicate a greater proportion of individuals aware, yellow indicates no data.

What is the significance of public perception of climate change?

  • It is very important that people are getting aware of climate change and it’s not actually the awareness per se but factually it is about the sufferance of people to make the think about climate change.
  • The new generation and the youth are going to face the consequences of climate change and thus they think that the coming COP26is the opportunity where effective and speedy action will result.
  • It forces world leader to take immediate and effective action and should contain the global warming which has the wide ranging consequences.
  • It also impacts what people do at an individual level to contain the global warming.
  • It needs to take some tougher decisions by leaders and the public perceptions shows how much appetite people have to accept such decision.

What are the expected tangible achievements of the COP26 in terms of public perception of climate change?

  • Climate change is the global issue and need commitment of all the leaders to do justice in terms of responding to the menace of climate change.
  • COVID-19 has refocused priorities and caused individuals and governments alike to pay closer attention to the environment. As many countries look to rebuild their economies in the wake of the pandemic, there has been a major emphasis on ‘building back better’ through a green recovery.
  • COP26 is being viewed as the successor to COP21 where the Paris Accord was signed, arguably the greatest success from the UNFCCC in recent years.
  • COP26 is seen as the summit to both address what has and hasn’t been achieved since 2015, while also setting concrete plans to reach the Paris Agreement targets.
  • The UN Environment Programme has warned that climate commitments are already falling far short of what is needed to meet these goals – but there is hope from net-zero pledges. This should be a “thundering wakeup call” for leaders ahead of the summit.
  • So it’s expected from countries around the globe to put forward ambitions in terms of GHGs reduction, net zero commitments, etc. As the window is very short, it is the high time that countries take harsh decisions.
  • The transition from carbon economy to carbon-less economy requires capital which many developing countries are lacking. Thus the carbon justice has to be brought.
  • This requires the developed countries to raise $100 billion which was supposed to be done by 2020 but is still not done.
  • The carbon neutrality or net zero is important but what is more important than this is deep cuts which are required first and the necessary financing required to install alternative energy sources which are renewable.

Conclusion

We are running short of time and the issue of climate change is a very serious problem and everyone across the globe has to work together for this and it is very important to see the summits like COP26 takes the harsh decisions required for containing the global warming and resolving financing issue as soon as possible. Public perception plays a major role in motivating global leaders to work towards a sustainable and climate risk-free global world.

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