By Bernard Giraud, President of Livelihoods Venture

AXA, a leading insurance company is concerned by the impact of climate change/global warming on its business and wanted to know the individual perception of climate change by the large public. They sponsored the first global opinion survey which was implemented by IPSOS in 13 countries and 3 continents: France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, UK, USA, Mexico, Japan, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Turkey. 13,000 representative people (1000 per country) were surveyed. My comments in the few following lines.

What are the results?

What is amazing is the very clear global trend that is observed everywhere despite some geographical nuances:

  • 9 out of 10 people polled believe that the climate has changed significantly in the past 20 years.
  • 3 out of 4 people consider that climate change has been scientifically proven.
  • 86% say they are worried about the consequences of climate change for them and their family. This sentiment is almost unanimous in the “new economies” (Turkey, Mexico, Indonesia, Hong Kong).
  • 82% believe that climate change results from human actions while 18% only from natural factors.

Who is responsible?

Interesting to see that surveyed people have a balanced answer: companies rank first (61%) but also governments, international institutions, and each individual/citizen (themselves) are perceived as responsible.

“Is it possible to do something to mitigate or adapt to climate change?” 88% say YES and believe that there are solutions.


Who should act?

All institutions and individuals: governments, companies, developed and emerging countries, citizens. Etc.

Which priority actions?

  1. Develop clean energies to reduce CO2 emissions (53% )
  2. Stop deforestation and promote sustainable use of the soil (45%).

To conclude

Of course it is a very polarized survey. If people were asked to rank climate change among other issues such as employment or poverty, the results would have been probably different, at least in European countries.

But the survey confirms a few interesting points :

  • Climate change perception is massive, not a marginal issue, despite the campaigns led by climato-skeptics, the failure of international negociations on emissions reduction.
  • It is not a “rich country/affluent people thing”. Results are even more spectacular in developing economies.
  • People seem realistic on the responsibilities and solutions : Companies have a major role to play but governments are clearly pointed out on not doing enough.
  • People see themselves as part of the problem and part of the solution. To what extent it may influence their behaviour as consumers?
  • Deforestation, Agriculture, Soils seen as the 2nd major lever against climate change is something which is directly link with Livelihoods actions. 

At a time when short term economic pressure could encourage us to drop out or slow down on those difficult issues, we should think twice before doing it. On the contrary, such a clear trend should encourage us to still be pro-active and continue to invent solutions.