Global consensus: Majority support quick fossil fuel phaseout, even in top producing nations

A new UNDP poll reveals overwhelming global support for a rapid transition to clean energy and stronger climate action, including in major fossil fuel-producing countries.

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A large majority of the global population, including people who live in oil, gas, and coal-producing countries, supports a fast transition to clean energy and a phaseout of fossil fuels, a poll released Thursday showed.

Across 77 countries, 72% of those surveyed supported a quick fossil fuel phaseout, while an even higher percentage, 80%, supported stronger climate action in general, according to the poll, called the Peoples’ Climate Vote. The poll was conducted for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) with the University of Oxford and GeoPoll.

“There can be no doubt that citizens across the world are saying to their leaders, you have to act and, above all, have to act faster,” UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner told The Guardian. “This is an issue that almost everyone, everywhere, can agree on.”

People in most major fossil fuel-producing nations support a quick energy transition in their own countries, the poll showed. In the United States, the world’s largest oil and gas producer, 53% supported either a “very” or “somewhat” quick phaseout; in Saudi Arabia, the second largest, 75% did so; and in China and India, the leading coal producers, the figures were 80% and 76%, respectively.

The poll also showed overwhelming support for transnational cooperation, even if it requires setting aside other differences: 86% of those surveyed said they want countries to tackle climate change together. Steiner called this a “stunning” level of consensus.

“There are very narrow, self-interested agendas that maintain artificially inflated [profits] for fossil fuel-based industries that ultimately are coming at the cost of everyone,” Steiner noted, highlighting how fossil fuel subsidies distort the market and subvert the public will for change.

The poll—the largest standalone public opinion survey on climate change to date, building on a first edition run in 2021—clarifies the will of the global public and strengthens the moral case for climate action, commentators said.

“Brilliant to see clear, credible evidence that the overwhelming majority of people across the world—oil rentier economy or not—want to see transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy ‘quickly,'” X user Dave Drabble wrote. “Let’s not let oil and gas interests determine our fate.”

Steiner emphasized the importance of letting the public’s voice be heard, stating, “It is so important we let the people speak for themselves.”

The survey, called Peoples’ Climate Vote 2024, included responses from 75,000 people across 77 countries, representing 87% of the global population. The poll, conducted by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), GeoPoll, and Oxford University, posed 15 questions via telephone.

“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 Achim Steiner, UNDP administrator, in a press release from UNDP. “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—nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement. This is an issue that almost everyone, everywhere, can agree on.”

According to the survey, 89% of people in poorer countries favored increasing efforts to curb global emissions, while 76% of respondents in wealthy G20 nations supported tougher climate action. In the planet’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters, the numbers were slightly lower, with China at 73% and the United States at 66% backing more fervent measures to combat global heating.

“As world leaders decide on the next round of pledges under the Paris Agreement by 2025, these results are undeniable evidence that people everywhere support bold climate action. The Peoples’ Climate Vote has enlisted the voices of people everywhere, including amongst groups traditionally the most difficult to poll. For example, people in nine of the 77 countries surveyed had never before been polled on climate change. The next two years stand as one of the best chances we have as the international community to ensure that warming stays under 1.5°. We stand ready to support policymakers in stepping up their efforts as they develop their climate action plans through our Climate Promise initiative,” said Cassie Flynn, UNDP’s global director of climate change, in the press release.

Some of the highest numbers came from Brazil, where 85% were in favor of strengthening climate commitments, Iran with 88%, and Italy with 93%. Among five big emitters—Canada, France, Germany, Australia, and the U.S.—women were more in support of stronger climate action by 10 to 17%.

The survey also showed a worldwide majority—72%—in support of a fast fossil fuel phaseout, including in nations that are in the top 10 largest coal, oil, and gas producers. Just 7% of those polled globally thought their government should not transition away from fossil fuels at all.

Climate change remains a major concern for people worldwide. The poll found that 56% of respondents think about it regularly—either daily or weekly—with 63% of those living in Least Developed Countries (LDCs). More than half of those polled—53%—said they worried more about climate change this year than last year.

Worldwide, 69% indicated that their big life decisions, such as where to work or live, were impacted by the climate crisis. In LDCs, the proportion was higher at 74%, while it was lower in Northern and Western Europe at 52% and North America at 42%.

“A survey of this size was a huge scientific endeavor. While maintaining rigorous methodology, special efforts were also made to include people from marginalized groups in the poorest parts of the world. This is some of the very highest quality global data on public opinions on climate change available,” said Professor Stephen Fisher of University of Oxford’s Department of Sociology in the press release.

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