Global public trust in climate science is rising - a report by the World Economic Forum
The Climate Progress Survey: Business and Consumer Worries and Hopes, a global study of public opinion published by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with SAP and Qualtrics, finds that while trust in climate science has surged, optimism is in short supply.
Most participants felt a strong personal responsibility to the environment, even as they felt businesses and governments could do more to make a difference. The majority of respondents felt that everyone should work together to tackle climate change.
This research found that nearly 70 percent of people trust climate scientists, up from 57 percent in 2019, when this poll question was first asked. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the jump was particularly dramatic, with trust nearly doubling, from 38 percent in 2019 to 65 percent in 2021.
74 percent of respondents agree climate change is caused by humans, a number that rose from 67 percent in 2020. This question has been settled within climate science for some time (99 percent of climate research agrees that climate change is man-made) but the question remains a topic of political circles. Most people (59 percent) felt their governments could do more to protect the environment and only around a fourth trusted business sustainability claims.
Respondents in the Middle East & North Africa are fairly neutral compared to other regions as they neither lead nor lag on any major KPI. 71 percent trust scientists, believe climate change is mostly human-caused and feel extremely or very personally responsible for addressing climate change. Around half are optimistic about the progress needed to reduce emissions. Among corporate respondents, 53 percent face notable risk from climate change and 59 percent of those who use ESG metrics say they are extremely or very useful.
The global study asked more than 11,000 people in 28 countries about their experience with climate change. Around 70 percent of its respondents represent the global population with the remaining 30 percent representing the corporate world (those working at least 40 hours per week for for-profit companies).
The study reinforces the World Economic Forum’s message that the climate crisis will require urgent cross-sector collaboration using every mechanism available to make meaningful action possible, including policy, finance, technology and education.
The report’s findings align with other recent World Economic Forum reports that drive home a critical reality: leaders do not need to choose between the economy and the climate.
The Climate Progress Survey’s release coincides with COP26, a critical global climate summit held in Glasgow, Scotland.