World losing trust in climate science, Indians most-trusting: World Economic Forum survey

Davos, Graubunden, SwitzerlandUpdated: Jan 21, 2020, 07:34 PM IST

A protester holding a placard attends the Global Climate Strike of the movement Fridays for Future, in Hamburg, Germany. Photograph:(Reuters)

Story highlights

A new public opinion poll published by World Economic Forum at its 50th annual meeting called for better climate education and urgent upskilling.

The global public overwhelmingly blames global warming on human activities with trust level declining in climate science, but Indians are the most trusting people in this regard, a new opinion poll showed on Tuesday.

Indians and Bangladeshis have topped the charts when it comes to trust in climate science as also for keeping themselves abreast about news and current affairs, while Russia and Ukraine are among the laggards on both counts. The new public opinion poll published by the World Economic Forum here at its 50th annual meeting called for better climate education and urgent upskilling.

The global public overwhelmingly blames global warming on human activity, with some regions less trusting of climate science in 2020, according to the survey. The findings reinforce the urgent need for a collective approach from business, government and civil society to advance societal and environmental agendas, the WEF said.

The survey also found that the majority of people in the world believe schools are under-preparing students for jobs. Outside of the Americas and South Asia, education is still viewed as a privilege for half of the population or less. The WEF said the world urgently needs to start implementing policies and strategies that advance societal and environmental agendas, from reskilling the population for the future to ensuring strong education and leadership on climate change from all sectors.

The global public-opinion poll, prepared in collaboration with SAP and Qualtrics, surveyed more than 10,500 people in 30 countries accounting for around 76 per cent of the global population. The findings have been presented in two parts - Toward a More Sustainable World and Toward a More Cohesive World - which forms the theme of this year's annual meeting.

Toward a More Sustainable World survey found that while more than half of respondents reportedly trust climate science, those in India are the most trusting whereas 86 per cent said they trusted scientists "a great deal" or "a lot". India was followed by Bangladesh (78 per cent) and Pakistan (70 per cent).

China and Turkey (both 69 per cent) complete the top five. By region, almost a fifth of North American adults expressed "little" (12 per cent) or "no" (6 per cent) trust in climate science, compared to South Asia, expressing "little" trust (4 per cent), and "no" trust (2 per cent). Respondents were also asked whether they believed global warming exists and what causes it.

Overall, more than two-thirds of people agreed that it is caused mostly by human activity. In Latin America and the Caribbean (78 per cent) agreed.

"We look forward to the Annual Meeting 2020 being a breakthrough moment for climate change. Our participants committing to help tackle this urgent issue is in line with the stakeholder imperative of the 2020 Davos Manifesto and the theme of the 50th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting: Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World," said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.

Toward a More Cohesive World found that outside of the Americas and South Asia, majorities believe a "good education" is the privilege of half of the population or less. Respondents also believe local schools are underperforming in terms of training students for the future workforce.

A key focus for the World Economic Forum's 50th Annual Meeting this week will be driving change to reskill and upskill the global population for future jobs, it said.

Forum research has found education systems have "become increasingly disconnected from the realities and needs of global economies and societies, with a need to adapt to provide future generations with the right skills. Only together can government, business, the scientific community, and NGOs can solve the world's most pressing challenges, and only if they put a relentless focus on what to achieve and how to achieve it," said SAP co-chief executive officers, Jennifer Morgan and Christian Klein.

"It's the people of this world who can help bring this focus to the areas of greatest urgency. Giving them a voice and acting on their feedback is an important duty of every leader from every corner of the globe," Klein said.

A specific platform focused on upskilling and reskilling will be launched at this week's Annual Meeting. The initiative will create a more cohesive world by providing 1 billion people with new, more relevant skills for accessing decent jobs within the next 10 years.