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Environmental worries outpace socioeconomic concerns over past decade, survey finds

The public's increased concern about environmental issues underscores the need for governments and businesses to remain committed to the green agenda and simultaneously address socioeconomic concerns, according to GlobeScan.

Graph chart: People have shown more concern on environmental issues than socioeconomic issues over the past decade.

Source: Alana Duval/GlobeScan

According to GlobeScan’s global public opinion research, people have shown more concern about environmental issues than socioeconomic issues over the past decade. GlobeScan’s Radar data shows a significant increase in environmental concern after a low point in 2014 as tracked through two separate indices.

The index numbers displayed in the chart represent the average percentage of people considering issues in each index as "very serious" across the 16 countries tracked over time. A higher index number indicates more significant concern, on average, for the issues depicted in the index. Environmental issues include air pollution, biodiversity loss, climate change, shortages of fresh water, water pollution and depletion of natural resources. Socioeconomic issues include the spread of human diseases, extreme poverty in the world, the global economy, the gap between rich and poor, unemployment, and human rights abuses.

The results indicate that people are more focused on environmental issues than socioeconomic issues, with a notable difference in concern between the proportion of people who rate environmental issues and socioeconomic issues as "very serious" — even though people in emerging economies tend to express slightly higher levels of concern about socioeconomic issues.

What does this mean?

These results carry a clear message: The notion of a "green backlash" among the general public is exaggerated. Despite high inflation, a challenging economic environment and pressing security concerns, people are more concerned about environmental issues. This means that governments and businesses have a crucial role to play by remaining committed to the green agenda while simultaneously addressing socioeconomic concerns, thereby ensuring a balanced, just approach to the issues at hand.

Based on a largely representative online survey of nearly 30,000 people across 31 countries and territories, Radar draws upon GlobeScan’s unique database of over two decades of polling public opinion about people’s outlook toward societal actors and the issues affecting them.

Survey question: For each of the following possible global problems, please indicate if you see it as a very serious, somewhat serious, not very serious, or not at all serious problem. 

Source: GlobeScan Radar Trends Report (survey of 29,565 people in the general public across 31 countries and territories in July-August 2023)

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