According to the report, a majority supports action on climate change. Photo:

Most Indians worried about global warming, nearly three-quarters personally impacted by it: Study

While majority of Indians agree that the govt needs to do more to fight global warming, about only half of them hear about it in media at least once a month, a new study finds

A national survey found that a large majority of the Indian public says global warming is happening, is a serious threat to India, and supports climate policies. The report, titled “Climate Change in the Indian Mind, 2022” by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and CVoter International, updated and extended the results from their national survey on climate change conducted in 2011.

The report found that 84% of people in India say that global warming is happening (+15 percentage points since 2011), 57% say that it is caused mostly by human activities, and 74% say that they have personally experienced the effects (+24 pp since 2011).

Meanwhile, 81% of people in India are worried about global warming, including 50% who are “very worried” (+30 pp since 2011). And 49% think people in India are already being harmed by global warming (+29 pp since 2011).

However, only about half of the people in India (52%) say they hear about global warming in the media at least once a month.

A nationally representative survey of 4,619 Indian adults was conducted to investigate current public climate change awareness, beliefs, attitudes, policy support, and behaviour, as well as public observations of change in local weather and climate patterns and self-reported vulnerability to extreme weather events.

India is among the countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, with India’s average temperature rising by 0.7°C between 1901-2018, the report noted. Climate change has already begun to alter growing seasons in India, and with almost 50% of Indians working in agriculture and other climate sensitive sectors, the damage to productivity and health is significant. 

“India is already experiencing climate impacts, from record heatwaves to severe floods to stronger storms,” said Dr. Anthony Leiserowitz of Yale University. “While many in India still do not know much about global warming, they overwhelmingly think the climate is changing and that they have personally experienced the impacts.”

Majority supports climate action

According to the report, a majority supports action on climate change. Around 64% said the Government of India should be doing more to address global warming and 55% said the country should reduce its emissions immediately without waiting for other countries to act (+19 pp since 2011).

Do you think the govt of India should be doing much more, more, less, or much less to address global warming or is it currently doing the right amount? Source: Yale Program on Climate Change Communication

Other data points: 

  • 83% support a national programme to teach all Indians about global warming (+13 pp since 2011)
  • 83% support a national programme to train people for new jobs in the renewable energy industry
  • 82% support encouraging local communities to build check dams to increase local water supplies (+14 pp since 2011)
  • 69% support preserving or expanding forested areas, even if this means less land for agriculture or housing (+12 pp since 2011)
  • 69% require new buildings to waste less water and energy, even if this increases their cost (+12 pp since 2011)
  • 66% support requiring that new automobiles be more fuel efficient, even if this increases the cost of cars and bus fare (+11 pp since 2011)
  • 62% think that overall, taking action to reduce global warming will either improve economic growth and provide new jobs (45%) or have no effect on economic growth or jobs (17%)
  • Only 19% think it will reduce economic growth and cost jobs
  • 59% think India should increase its use of renewable sources of energy, while only 13% think India should increase its use of fossil fuels

“Indians strongly support action to reduce climate change,” said Dr. Jagadish Thaker of the University of Auckland. “And importantly, majorities think India should use more renewable energy and less fossil fuels to power the country.”

“The trendlines are clear,” said Yashwant Deshmukh, founder and director of CVoter International. “Over the past decade, Indians have become much more concerned about climate change, supportive of climate policies, and want the Indian government to be a global leader on climate change.”

However, to meet its 2070 emissions target, India will need an estimated $10.1 trillion in investments, the report mentioned. We reported earlier how most COP26 adaptation finance pledges remain undelivered ahead of the COP27 to be held next month in Egypt. While the urgency for climate action grows among the public, it is eventually the governments who are calling the shots. 

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