G20 youth call for swift climate action in video game-fueled UN poll

Young residents of the world’s richest and most powerful nations have suspended their mobile gaming devices to express support for bold climate action in their countries – urging the deployment of electric vehicles and renewable energy technologies in a new survey published by the United Nations.

Some 302,000 people aged 14 to 17 made their voices heard during the G20 People’s Climate Vote, which surveyed more than 689,000 people from October 2020 to June 2021 in Group of 20 member countries ( G20). And to reach as large a population as possible, the researchers recruited respondents by placing advertisements on mobile gaming networks.

Cassie Flynn, senior author and strategic advisor for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), told The Hill that she has been thinking about how to reach such a diverse sample of the population in a low-pressure environment.

“And I looked around on the subway, and each person was on their phone. Everyone, ”she said, noting that the person next to her was playing Angry Birds.

Ultimately, Flynn said she and her team created ads in 19 languages ​​that appeared on popular gaming platforms, ranging from apps that would attract a younger audience to crossword puzzles that might attract more participants. aged.

With such a large pool, Flynn said he was able to observe stark differences of opinion between age groups – disparities which the authors say are “suggestive of upcoming changes in public demand.” .

Their results, compiled with the University of Oxford, were published ahead of the G20 summit next weekend in Rome and the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) next week in Glasgow.

The largest generational gap they discovered occurred in Australia and the United States, where ‘under 18s’ ranked 10 percentage points higher than adult respondents on recognition. general climate emergency. This gap was at its peak when it came to supporting EVs and renewables – 13 percentage points in the United States for EVs and 10 percentage points for renewables.

G20 members generated around 75 percent of global emissions and account for more than 80 percent of global GDP, as well as 60 percent of the world’s population, the authors said.

“What the G20 does about climate change is going to affect the whole world for every generation to come,” Flynn said.

The G20 countries included in the survey were Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States. – all members except the European Union and China.

China, Flynn said, was not included for purely technical reasons, and UNDP is working with a Chinese polling agency to compile a full set of data, to be launched next year.

In some countries, the authors say, this is the first time young people‘s voices have been heard on climate change – and many of those people will be of voting age in just a few years. As such, the researchers argued that the survey could provide significant value in predicting the direction of public opinion on climate policy, while indicating where greater public education efforts are needed. .

Adults were more in favor of funding green businesses and jobs than the younger cohort, with the greatest support coming from adults in the UK (74%), followed by Australia, Canada and the UK. Germany (all 68%). Among those under 18, support was highest in Australia (73%).

More adults than young people also demanded that companies pay for the pollution they produce – a finding that surprised the authors and which they said indicated a need for more public education. The results were most severe in Indonesia, Japan and Saudi Arabia, where less than a third of those under 18 wanted polluters to pay.

For adults and under-18s, reducing fossil fuel use was popular policy in the UK, Australia, Canada, France and Germany, but had much lower levels of support elsewhere. – with only 30% of adults, Saudi Arabia and India in favor of this policy.

Gaps between generations, which vary by country and by issue, could signal the potential of future voters to “usher in a new urgency and a new way of thinking about climate change in many countries that we do not yet have.” seen really intensify, “said Flynn.

Focusing on young Americans in particular, Flynn pointed out that 74% of those polled supported clean energy, 73% wanted to conserve forests and land, and 72% wanted climate-friendly agriculture.

“It’s all in the ’70s – and then in adults it’s all in the’ 60s,” she said.

Such responses, Flynn continued, show that there is “overwhelming support” for many of the proposals currently being removed from the Reconciliation Bill in Congress.

“It gives us particular information and particular momentum to say, well, wait a minute here, people want climate action,” Flynn said. “They want these bold policies, they want the government to tackle this crisis – despite these battles that we see on the Hill.”

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