Public Perceptions of Climate Policies: Evidence from Cross-Country Surveys

February 9, 2023

As prepared for delivery

Good morning in Singapore, and good evening from Washington, DC. On behalf of the IMF, thank you for joining us today.

It is my pleasure to launch the new IMF Staff Discussion Note, which explores global public perceptions of climate change and the policies designed to mitigate its effects.

This is an important and timely topic because—despite recent progress—there is a long way to go to keep global warming below 1.5 to 2 degrees compared with pre-industrial times.

Closing this gap will require ambitious and carefully calibrated policies that accelerate the green transition. But even the smartest policies cannot succeed without support from the public.

To achieve this support, we must ask how people think about climate change and the policies needed to address it.

One way to answer this question is through public perception surveys. We surveyed almost 30 thousand individuals across four continents, covering 28 countries—including 11 in Asia. The survey spans some of the largest emitters as well as those most vulnerable to climate shocks.

So, what did we learn?

My colleagues will share the detailed findings with you shortly but let me share some of my key takeaways.

First, an overwhelming majority of the public views climate change as an immediate threat and recognizes that reducing emissions is a top priority. Unfortunately, many people say they are already personally affected by climate change, including in the Asia and Pacific region. This underscores the urgency of this challenge.

And second, across all countries, a majority of people believe that tackling climate change is a common goal that can only be achieved if all countries work together.

In addition, the survey shows that there are big gaps in the public’s knowledge and support for key policies. And in many countries large shares of the population are unaware of their national commitments to cut emissions. Here, the paper points to action that governments can take to bridge these knowledge gaps and build support for policies.

At the top of the list is clear and transparent communication. Why? Because people are more likely to support policies that protect economically vulnerable groups and promise positive spillovers like better air quality.

But the question remains, who should pay?

Perhaps most surprisingly, in both advanced economies and emerging markets, most people think that all countries should pay.

These are just a few highlights from the study that I hope you will find useful as you develop and implement specific policies.

Our goal is to help governments increase support for strong climate action, including joint measures across borders. After all – we need to work together to solve this existential threat to our shared planet.

Thank you.

IMF Communications Department


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