According to a new survey, on average across 34 countries, more than half of all adults surveyed (56%) say climate change has already had a severe effect in the areas where they live. More than seven in ten (71%), including a majority in every single country, expect climate change to have a severe effect in their regions over the next ten years. One-third (35%) expect to be displaced from their homes due to climate change by 2047.
These are some of the headline findings of a new survey conducted by the World Economic Forum and Ipsos among 23,507 adults in 34 countries between July 22 and August 5 2022.
“We are in a climate crisis. The survey results affirm that across the world, people already feel the effects today and fear for their futures tomorrow” said Gim Huay Neo, Managing Director, Head of the Centre for Nature and Climate, World Economic Forum. “The crisis affects everyone. We have to work together, to adapt to climate change, and concurrently, accelerate and scale action towards a healthier, greener, and more sustainable planet. We need a holistic and systems approach, involving all stakeholders – governments, businesses, and civil society – to co-create solutions and effectively respond to this crisis.”
Global public already impacted by climate change
Survey respondents were asked “How severe an effect would you say climate change has had so far in the area where you live?” The proportion of respondents describing the effect of climate change in their areas as “very” or “somewhat” severe ranged from global lows of 25% in Sweden and 38% in Ireland, to highs of 75% in Mexico and 74% in both Hungary and Turkey, averaging 56% globally.
While over half of respondents in 22 of these countries indicated that they have already been severely impacted by climate change, in nine of these countries – Mexico, Hungary, Turkey, Colombia, Spain, Italy, India, Chile, and France – over two thirds of respondents said they had already been affected.
This likely reflects recent events in these countries. As the survey also found notable regional differences within the countries where the survey took place – likely reflecting recent experiences with extreme heat, drought, forest fires, or floods. For example, the prevalence of people saying that they had already experienced severe effects of climate change was significantly higher for Greater London than the national average, for British Columbia (compared to the rest Canada), the western region of the United States, south-eastern France, southern Germany, north-eastern Italy, and east Hungary.
Impacts expected to go from bad to worse
The survey also asked respondents “How severe an effect do you expect climate change to have in your area over the next 10 years?” The global mood here seems clear, as a majority in every single country surveyed said that they expected to be severely impacted by 2030.
In 10 countries at least four in five of respondents expected “very severe” or “somewhat severe” impacts in the next decade. Portugal (88%), Mexico, Hungary (both 86%), Turkey, Chile (85%), South Korea, Spain (83%), Italy (81%), France and Romania (80%) led the list. The countries where expectations about severe climate effects in the next decade were lowest were Malaysia (52%), China (55%), Sweden, (56%) Thailand (57%), and Saudi Arabia (60%).
On average across all the countries surveyed, 71% said they expect climate change to have a very or somewhat severe impact in their area over the next 10 years (30% “very severe” and 41% “somewhat severe”). This reflects a 15-point increase on the percentage saying climate change has already had a severe impact where they live. The difference was highest in Sweden (31 points) and Portugal (30 points). However, one exception was Saudi Arabia, where more said climate change had already had a severe impact than believe it will have a severe impact over the next 10 years.
Expectations about climate change and displacement
Respondents were also asked “How likely would you say it is that you and your family will be displaced from your home as a result of climate change at some point in the next 25 years?”
On average across the 34 countries surveyed, just over one in three respondents (35%) said it was likely that they or their families will be displaced from their homes as a result of climate change in the next quarter of a century (of these 10% said “very likely”, and 25% “somewhat likely”).
The countries where climate change induced displacement was seen as most likely were India (65%) and Turkey (64%), by a large margin. However, almost half of people surveyed in Malaysia (49%), Brazil (49%), Spain (46%), and South Africa (45%) also shared these concerns. In contrast, fewer than one in four expected to be displaced from their homes in Sweden (17%), Argentina (21%), the Netherlands (21%), and Poland (23%).
While reported and expected experiences with severe effects of climate change varied little along demographic variables globally – although women both reported and expected slightly worse climate impacts than men on average globally – the perceived likelihood of being displaced because of climate change decreased significantly with age. Globally, 43% of those under 35 and 37% of those aged 35 to 49 said it is likely they will need to move in the next 25 years because of climate change. However only 25% among those aged 50 to 74 shared these concerns.