Poll: Average citizens in China, Vietnam, Indonesia favor action on climate change, even if there are costs


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A few days before the start of the U.N. climate conference this week in Copenhagen, the results of an interesting – and very relevant – poll were released by the World Bank. While world leaders and other high-level representatives from more than 190 countries negotiate during the two-week conference (Dec. 7-18), this multi-country survey attempts to give a voice to average people in the developing world.

More than 13,000 people in 15 nations (most of which are developing countries) were asked a variety of questions, including whether climate change should be a concern, its urgency and what their governments should do about it. The poll also gives us a glimpse of what people in some East Asian countries – including Vietnam, China and Indonesia – think about climate change.

Overall, the majority of people polled said they want their government to take steps to fight climate change – even if that means an economic cost to their country. Some of the largest majorities of people who answered this way were in low-income countries, including Vietnam.

Here are a few other interesting findings from East Asian countries included in the survey:

  • Even though China is highly reliant on coal, a majority of people – 67 percent – support “limiting the rate of constructing coal-fired power plants, even if this increases the cost of energy.”
  • Many developing countries, including Vietnam and Indonesia, answered with more than 90 percent support acting in solidarity with other countries facing similar problems.
  • The majority of people polled in China (68 percent), Vietnam (59 percent) and Japan (53 percent) say they are willing to pay higher prices for energy and other goods to fight climate change.
  • In Vietnam, more than 90 percent of people said their government should commit to limiting emissions, whether or not it’s part of a deal.

See more results of the poll on the World Bank’s climate change blog or download a pdf copy of the full report here.

December 09, 2009

It’s promising to see majority in developing countries support their governments to fight climate change even if they know that means economic cost to them. The survey undoubtedly reflects that most people have a strong awareness in environmental protection. They don’t focus on short-term economic development, but on long-term benefit. But things become much more complicated when it comes to policy-makers. Some developing countries feel incapable to sharply cut greenhouse-gas emission at the expense of economic growth. However, reports estimate that some developing countries like Brazil will suffer great economic loss due to climate change.It seems wise to spend money to slow the climate change sooner than later. Otherwise, they would spend more in the future. Therefore, governments in developing countries have to find a balance between economic development and environmental protection.

juan mahaganti
August 26, 2015

you don't get it, the result is like that because lack of ideological stance of people in developing country, so we don't see what is in play in the issue . which is also our weakness and could be a hindrance for progress. That's why that "opinion" will never be translated into policy and practice. We can be like a coconut tree, bend to wherever direction wind blows, take 6 minutes to explain about what is global warming and all of us will say that it is serious problem. You just need to see evening news in Indonesia to realize it.

Ben Bland
December 10, 2009

Interesting survey but it's a bit of a leading question isn't it?

People may have responded differently if asked a more neutral question such as "how serious an issue do you think climate change is?".

December 10, 2009

Agree with Ben. Its very unfortunate that polling on such an important question is done in the form of a push-poll.
It makes it seem like the pollsters were more interested in finding evidence to support climate action rather than actually examining opinions, which just adds ammo to the deniers.