People across the world, and the political spectrum, underestimate levels of support for climate action.

This “perception gap” matters. Governments will change policy if they think they have strong public backing. Companies need to know that consumers want to see low-carbon products and changes in business practices. We’re all more likely to make changes if we think others will do the same.

If governments, companies, innovators, and our neighbors know that most people are worried about the climate and want to see change, they’ll be more willing to drive it.

On the flip side, if we systematically underestimate widespread support, we’ll keep quiet for fear of “rocking the boat”.

This matters not only within each country but also in how we cooperate internationally. No country can solve climate change on its own. If we think that people in other countries don’t care and won’t act, we’re more likely to sit back as we consider our efforts hopeless.

Support for climate action is high across the world

The majority of people in every country in the world worry about climate change and support policies to tackle it. We can see this in the survey data shown on the map.

Surveys can produce unreliable — even conflicting — results depending on the population sample, what questions are asked, and the framing, so I’ve looked at several reputable sources to see how they compare. While the figures vary a bit depending on the specific question asked, the results are pretty consistent.

In a recent paper published in Science, Madalina Vlasceanu and colleagues surveyed 59,000 people across 63 countries.1 “Belief” in climate change was 86%. Here, “belief” was measured based on answers to questions about whether action was necessary to avoid a global catastrophe, whether humans were causing climate change, whether it was a serious threat to humanity, and whether it was a global emergency.

People think climate change is a serious threat, and humans are the cause. Concern was high across countries: even in the country with the lowest agreement, 73% agreed.

The majority also supported climate policies, with an average global score of 72%. “Policy support” was measured across nine interventions, including carbon taxes on fossil fuels, expanding public transport, more renewable energy, more electric car chargers, taxes on airlines, and protecting forests. In the country with the lowest support, there was still a majority (59%) who supported these policies.

These scores are high considering the wide range of policies suggested.

Read the full article about support for climate change by Hannah Ritchie at Our World in Data.