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In Response to Climate Change, Citizens in Advanced Economies Are Willing To Alter How They Live and Work

In Response to Climate Change, Citizens in Advanced Economies Are Willing To Alter How They Live and Work

Many doubt success of international efforts to reduce global warming

A new Pew Research Center survey in 17 advanced economies spanning North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region finds widespread concern about the personal impact of global climate change. Most citizens say they are willing to change how they live and work at least some to combat the effects of global warming, but whether their efforts will make an impact is unclear.

Citizens offer mixed reviews of how their societies have responded to climate change, and many question the efficacy of international efforts to stave off a global environmental crisis.

Conducted this past spring, before the summer season ushered in new wildfires, droughts, floods and stronger-than-usual storms, the study reveals a growing sense of personal threat from climate change among many of the publics polled. In Germany, for instance, the share that is “very concerned” about the personal ramifications of global warming has increased 19 percentage points since 2015 (from 18% to 37%).

In the study, only Japan (-8 points) saw a significant decline in the share of citizens deeply concerned about climate change. In the United States, views did not change significantly since 2015.

Young adults, who have been at the forefront of some of the most prominent climate change protests in recent years, are more concerned than their older counterparts about the personal impact of a warming planet in many publics surveyed. The widest age gap is found in Sweden, where 65% of 18- to 29-year-olds are at least somewhat concerned about the personal impacts of climate change in their lifetime, compared with just 25% of those 65 and older. Sizable age differences are also found in New Zealand, Australia, the U.S., France and Canada.

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