Five things we learned from the UN’s climate mega-poll

The UN asked 75,000 people in 77 countries for their views on climate change – and the results show widespread concern and support for action

Developing countries call for $100 billion loss and damage target. Five things we learned from the UN's climate mega-poll

People in Vanuatu walk through flooded streets after Cyclone Donna in 2017 (Photo credit: Pedro Armestre/Greenpeace)


People all over the world are worried about climate change and want their governments to do more to cut planet-heating emissions and protect them from extreme weather, a UN survey of more than 75,000 people from 77 countries has found.

Cassie Flynn, climate lead for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said the results were “undeniable evidence that people everywhere support bold climate action”.

While the top-line global figures are interesting, there’s a lot to be learned from comparing the countries too. You can use our search bars to check responses for the countries you’re interested in, but here are Climate Home’s five takeaways from the data:

1. Climate change is not just a rich-world concern

Concern about climate change is still sometimes presented as a luxury issue that worries only privileged people with nothing more immediate to care about.

But this poll – called the Peoples’ Climate Vote 2024, and conducted for the UNDP with the University of Oxford and GeoPoll – suggests that citizens of wealthier countries dwell on climate change much less often than those in the least developed countries.

Almost two-thirds of people in Uganda say they think about climate change every day while less than one-third of people in the US, Japan, China, France or the UK do the same.

Hamira Kobusingye, a young Ugandan climate activist, told Climate Home that Ugandans are seeing the effects of global warming first-hand. “My grandmother often complains that her land no longer yields enough food,” she said.

“In Uganda, you have to be extremely wealthy to say you’re not affected by the climate crisis,” she added.

2. Saudis back their government’s climate action

When asked how well their countries are doing at addressing climate change, people generally shrug their shoulders. The most popular answers are “somewhat well” followed by “neither well nor badly”.

But the people of Saudi Arabia are by far the most positive about their country’s performance, with almost two-thirds saying it is doing “very well”.

Globally, less than a fifth say the same – and residents of big, developed countries are among the most negative about how they are doing.

3. Russians are most opposed to fast energy transition

Globally, 71% of people say their country should replace fossil fuels with renewable energy either quickly or very quickly.

Support for a fast transition is highest in the South Asian island nation of Sri Lanka, where importing fossil fuels is a huge drain on the economy.

But it’s also popular in fossil fuel producers like Nigeria, South Africa, Iran and Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, it’s low in Russia, which has plentiful supplies of oil and gas, and where concern for climate change is pretty low.

As with many other issues, the US – the world’s biggest oil and gas producer – is divided. A quarter say it should not transition at all, more than any other nation. But a similar amount say it should transition “very quickly”.

4. People in rich, colder countries feel safer from extreme weather

Globally, nearly four-fifths of respondents want more protection from extreme weather. But those figures are lowest mainly in wealthy temperate nations like the US, Germany and Japan and highest in poorer, hotter countries like Benin, Ecuador and Haiti.

Some high- and middle-income countries came near the top of the list wanting “more protection”, including Greece, Mexico and Italy. All are hot during their summer months and frequently suffer from heatwaves and wildfires.

5. Even citizens of rich countries want them to do more to help poorer ones

Globally, nearly four-fifths of citizens say rich nations should give more help to poorer countries to address climate change.

Support for this is unsurprisingly higher among inhabitants of lower-income countries than those of richer ones. But even in wealthy countries, their people want them to do more.

The country with by far the biggest minority saying “less help” is the US – the nation that has proportionately done the least to help through providing climate finance in recent years, in relation to its size, economic power and historical emissions.

The pollsters did not specify whether “help” meant financial support. But Iskander Erzini Vernoit, co-founder of the Morocco-based Imal Initative think-tank, told Climate Home it shows developed countries could give more climate finance without losing domestic support.

“This further demonstrates that there is no leg to stand on for those hiding behind so-called political realism to justify a failure to confront the staggeringly low fiscal ambition from rich countries to support poorer countries with new grant-equivalent climate finance,” he said.

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(Reporting and graphics by Joe Lo; editing by Megan Rowling)

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