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71% of Indians see climate change's impact on local weather: Study

2,178 Indians showing widespread concern about global warming found 78% of Indians believe in global warming, with 52% attributing it to human activities. Severe climate impacts like extreme heat, floods, public knowledge about global warming remains low.

By Ground report
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71% of Indians see global warming's impact on local weather: Study

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A new study shows that most Indians are deeply concerned about global warming and rising temperatures. They also support the government's efforts to combat climate change and transition to clean energy sources.

The "Climate Change in the Indian Mind 2023" report surveyed 2,178 Indians aged 18 and above between September and October last year. The report was conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and SeaVoter International. The findings show a nation grappling with climate change and eager for action.

"India experiences climate impacts like extreme heat, floods, and strong storms. Despite this, many people in the country lack knowledge about global warming. However, most believe that the climate is changing and are concerned," said Dr. Anthony Leiserowitz, a researcher at Yale University and an author of the report.

The report states that 78% of Indians believe in global warming. 52% attribute it to human activities and 38% to natural changes.

78% Indians Believe Global Warming

Scientists have expressed a 61% possibility that 2024 will be the hottest year on record, and it is almost certain that 2024 will be among the five hottest years ever recorded. This was evident in April and early May, when temperatures set new records in many parts of India and the world, forcing schools to close in Bangladesh, the Philippines, and South Sudan due to the extreme heat.

The Indian Meteorological Department also confirmed that April 2024 was the warmest April for eastern India since record-keeping began in 1901. Similarly, West Bengal experienced the highest number of heatwave days in the last 15 years during April 2024, while Odisha endured its worst heat conditions in the last nine years during the same month.

Climate Trends has also shared that as temperatures continue to rise due to climate change, there are significant changes in local weather patterns across the country, raising concerns that summer months may begin earlier than usual.

The survey found high levels of concern over environmental hazards. 87% are worried about agricultural pests and diseases, 86% about extinction of species, 85% about heat waves, droughts, water shortages, and air pollution, 83% about famines, 76% about cyclones, and 71% about floods.

Despite alarming figures, only 10% of respondents said they know "a lot" about global warming. 54% admitted knowing "just a little" or "never heard of it," highlighting a gap in public awareness and communication efforts.

The report highlights the economic implications of climate change. 74% of respondents believe that limiting global warming will boost economic growth, and 51% express confidence that it will create new job opportunities. Conversely, 23% believe it will have no impact on employment and economic development, while 21% think it will harm the economy and lead to job losses.

"Indians strongly support clean energy transitions for the economy and health. The majority also support the 'net zero' goal to eliminate carbon pollution by 2070 and are willing to take action to achieve it."

Indians committed to environmental sustainability

The survey aligns with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call for a global movement towards sustainable lifestyles and environment-friendly behaviour during the COP-26 climate conference. Most Indians (93%) expressed willingness to make major changes in their daily lives to protect the environment. 25% are already doing so and 67% intend to do so. Furthermore, 92% of respondents said they are already convincing their family and friends to take eco-friendly actions or are willing to do so, indicating a strong desire for collective action.

The report highlights widespread support for renewable energy sources. 86% of Indians favour the government's commitment to reduce carbon pollution to nearly zero by 2070. 85% say the transition from coal to wind and solar energy would reduce air pollution, and 82% believe it would reduce global warming.

Concerns were raised about the potential impact on employment. 61% said the transition would increase unemployment in India, 58% feared electricity outages, and 57% anticipated higher electricity prices.

The report claims that about one in three Indians (34%) have moved or considered moving due to weather-related disasters like extreme heat, droughts, sea-level rise, or flooding.

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