Bhutanese steadfast in war against climate change

The commitment of Bhutanese and Bhutan to protect the environment and help address climate change is reflected in the biggest ever standalone public opinion survey on climate change, the Peoples’ Climate Vote 2024, which was conducted by the United Nations (UN) and released yesterday (June 21st, 2024). The report says that 88% of the Bhutanese populace feel that the country should strengthen its commitments to address climate change, while 42% think that the country is addressing climate change very well.

The report says that 74% of the Bhutanese are more worried about climate change this year compared to the previous year, while 34% are extremely worried about its effects on the next generation.

Likewise, 39% of the population said that they are thinking about climate change on a daily basis, and 55% felt that the extreme weather in recent times has been worse.

The Peoples’ Climate Vote 2024 asked people how quickly they want to move away from fossil fuels, like coal, oil, and gas to clean energy. To this, 49% of the Bhutanese voiced that oil and gas should be replaced, while 41% of the world said the same.

On a comparative note regarding people’s priorities in protecting and restoring nature, 81% of the world and 88% of the Bhutanese supported the cause. Similarly, 78% of the world and 85% of the Bhutanese supported protection from weather events.

Close to 95% of the Bhutanese and 86% of the world said, “Yes, countries should work together on climate change even if they disagree on other issues, such as trade or security.” They felt that there should be international collaboration and effort towards addressing the impacts of climate change. In order to do that, 94% of the Bhutanese felt that poor countries should seek help from rich countries in the endeavor.

94% and 80% of the Bhutanese and the world respectively supported climate change education as a strong means to tackle the menace.

69% of the world’s population said that climate change is impacting their big life decisions, from where they choose to work and live, or what they buy.

More than 75,000 people speaking 87 different languages across 77 countries were asked 15 questions on climate change for the survey, which was conducted for the UN Development Programme (UNDP) with the University of Oxford, UK and GeoPoll. The questions were designed to help understand how people are experiencing the impacts of climate change and how they want world leaders to respond.

The 77 countries polled represent 87 percent of the global population. “The Peoples’ Climate Vote is loud and clear. Global citizens want their leaders to transcend their differences, to act now and to act boldly to fight the climate crisis,” said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner.

“The survey results – unprecedented in their coverage – reveal a level of consensus that is truly astonishing. We urge leaders and policymakers to take note, especially as countries develop their next round of climate action pledges – or ‘nationally determined contributions’ under the Paris Agreement. This is an issue that almost everyone, everywhere, can agree on.”

Biggest emitters support stronger climate action

The survey revealed support for stronger climate action in 20 of the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters, with majorities ranging from 66 percent of people in the United States and Russia, to 67 percent in Germany, 73 percent in China, 77 percent in South Africa and India, 85 percent in Brazil, 88 percent in Iran and up to 93 percent in Italy.

In five big emitters (Australia, Canada, France, Germany and the United States), women were more in favour of strengthening their country’s commitments by 10 to 17 percentage points. This gap was biggest in Germany, where women were 17 percentage points more likely than men to want more climate action (75 percent Vs 58 percent).

By Tashi Namgyal, Thimphu