Urban India strongly focused on climate safety - GulfToday

Urban India strongly focused on climate safety

Meena Janardhan

Writer/Editor/Consultant. She has over 25 years of experience in the fields of environmental journalism and publishing.

Writer/Editor/Consultant. She has over 25 years of experience in the fields of environmental journalism and publishing.

India Climate Change

The survey experiment revealed that a vast majority wanted ‘all national governments’ to do more to protect the environment. Reuters

A survey experiment spanning seven countries finds high levels of support for increased action on environmental protection ahead of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties.

In India, where the survey represented adults in urban areas, policies on planting more trees (above 75%), protecting wildlife (74%) and spending more on clean technology (66%) found the most support. Mongabay-India reports that the survey results showed that widespread destruction of trees in urban India spawning local civic movements, youth climate activism and lived realities have likely spurred citizens to demand more government-led action on climate change.

The University of Cambridge researchers, who did the survey, worked with polling agency YouGov on a message-testing experiment fielding it to 14,627 adults, with samples of around 2000 each in Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Poland, the UK and the US. Polling took place from December 8 to December 31, 2020. The survey experiment revealed that a vast majority wanted ‘all national governments’ to do more to protect the environment. Since the Indian sample of 1805 adults was representative of the urban community, the same policies may not be equally popular with rural voters, the researchers said.

The Cambridge survey also asked which policies governments should support at COP26. In each of these seven countries, baseline figures showed that at least 50% supported four policies. The most popular on average was action “to protect and preserve” wildlife, marine life and plants; followed by a policy “to plant more trees to absorb the gases that cause climate change”; then spending more on developing clean technologies; then reducing “the production over thirty years of the gases that cause climate change.”

Participants were randomly assigned to read either one of four “treatment” texts about climate change – drafted to reflect current UN messaging, public health, social norms and patriotism – or a neutral text, unrelated to climate and used to test “baseline” support. The participants were then asked if they agreed or disagreed with the statement that “all national governments should do more to protect the environment,” said a press release.

Baseline figures showed extremely high levels of support for government-led action. In six of these countries, at least nine out of ten participants agreed that governments should do more for the environment. In the US, the figure was three out of four (79%). Additionally, baseline figures were 70% for wildlife conservation, 67% for tree planting, and 60% for clean technology in the country. In the UK, the most popular policy baseline figures were wildlife conservation (84%), tree planting (81%) and spending on clean technology (75%).

In 2018, in New Delhi, India’s capital where an average of 24 trees was felled per day between 2005 and 2018, residents rallied against the proposed felling of more than 16,000 trees for a project to build housing. In Bengaluru, once known for its lush greenery, residents formed a human chain in protest against the cutting of 25 old-growth trees. In 2020, over 50 youth unions from India submitted a letter to the environment ministry to condemn a notification on account of how destructive it can prove to be for the ecology and the people. Concerned citizens have also taken to art, craft and music to protest illegal coal mining in an elephant reserve and to save a bird sanctuary.

Participants were also asked if they thought that businesses should be made “to pay for the damage they do when their activities contribute to climate change”. Across the seven countries, on average, 58% supported making businesses pay and 48% supported the timetable option.

In India, 55% of respondents supported making businesses pay for the environmental damage they cause, 57% supported reducing production of greenhouse gases over 30 years and 53% supported giving businesses a fair timetable to stop activities that contribute to climate change. Only two per cent felt governments are already doing all they should.

The Mongabay-India report also highlighted a separate Pew Research Center survey that reflected the prioritizing of environment protection in India. The survey was conducted across Europe, the Asia-Pacific, Russia, the US, Canada and Brazil from October 2019 to March 2020. In India, about 61% think protecting the environment should be given priority, even if it causes slower economic growth and some loss of jobs. A smaller share (25%) thinks creating jobs should be the top priority, even if the environment suffers to some extent; 70% say climate change is affecting where they live a great deal (28%) or some (42%).

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