Around 68% of respondents from 17 G20 countries concur that the economy should prioritise protecting the environment and human health over maximising profits and accumulating wealth.

71% people across 18 G20 countries believe major climate action is needed immediately

When thinking about climate change and protecting nature, almost three-fourth of people across eighteen G20 countries surveyed believe major action is needed immediately— within the next decade— to reduce carbon emissions

Results from a recent survey showed that 71% of citizens in 18 G20 countries believe that the world needs to act immediately, within a decade to reduce carbon emissions from electricity, transport, food, industry and buildings.

Countrywise, the figure stood at 91% of Mexicans, 83% of South Africans and 81% of Brazilians surveyed. The belief is lowest— but still over half of respondents—in Saudi Arabia (52%), Japan (53%), the United States (62%) and Italy (62%).

The survey, commissioned by Earth4All and the Global Commons Alliance, explored support for economic and political transformation in 18 of the G20 nations.

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Owen Gaffney, co-lead of the Earth4All initiative, said, “The message to politicians could not be clearer. The vast majority of people we surveyed in the world’s largest economies believe major immediate action is needed this decade to tackle climate change and protect nature. At the same time many feel the economy is not working for them and want political and economic reform. It’s possible this may well help explain the rise in populist leaders.” 

The results are released as the finance ministers of the G20—which includes the US, China, and India—get ready for their July meeting in Brazil. A wealth tax is being discussed for the first time as these countries discuss how to deal with their economic and environmental problems. 

Higher tax for wealthy to bring reform

Higher carbon taxes, higher progressive taxation on income and higher tax rates for large businesses also received support from a majority—68% — across the 17 G20 countries surveyed, to fund major changes to our economy and lifestyles. 

According to the survey, people are demanding political and economic reform. Around 68% of respondents from 17 G20 countries concur that the economy should prioritise protecting the environment and human health over maximising profits and accumulating wealth.

The countries with the greatest support for a wealth tax on the wealthy include Indonesia (86%), Turkey (78%), the UK (77%) and India (74%). Although support is lowest in Argentina (54%), and Saudi Arabia (54%), it is more than half of the respondents surveyed. About two thirds of respondents in the US, France, and Germany (67%, 67%, and 68%, respectively) are in favour of a wealth tax on the affluent.

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The survey highlighted broad support for using additional tax revenues to fund policy proposals to changes to our economy and lifestyles. Key areas with strong support include green energy initiatives, universal healthcare and strengthening workers’ rights. Even less popular proposals, such as universal basic income and investment in citizens’ assemblies to strengthen democracy, attract support from about half of respondents.

Low trust in governments

The trust in government is low, the survey found. Only 39% of people in 17 G20 countries surveyed believed their government can be trusted to make decisions for the benefit of the majority of people, and just 37% trusted their government to make long-term decisions that will benefit the majority of people 20 or 30 years from now.

Reform of the political and economic structures at the national and international levels is highly demanded. Around 65% of respondents in the 17 G20 countries think their country’s political system needs to be totally overhauled (29%) or undergo significant adjustments (36%). Comparably, 67% of respondents think the same way about the economic system in their nation—41% believing it requires significant adjustments and 27% believing it needs total reform. 

The survey also asked whether people are optimistic or pessimistic about their future. On average, 62% of people in 18 G20 countries surveyed are optimistic about their own future. However, only 44% feel positive about their country’s future, while 38% are optimistic about the future of the world. Participants in emerging economies such as Indonesia, Mexico, Brazil, and India, along with those in China and Saudi Arabia are the most optimistic while participants in Europe and those in Japan and South Korea tend to be less optimistic.

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