Most People on Earth, Even in Petrostates, Want Quick Fossil Fuel Phaseout

“There can be no doubt that citizens across the world are saying to their leaders, you have to act and, above all, have to act faster,” a U.N. official said. “This is an issue that almost everyone, everywhere, can agree on.”

By Edward Carver

A large majority of the global population, including people who live in oil, gas, and coal producing countries, supports a fast transition to clean energy and a phaseout of fossil fuels, a poll released Thursday showed.

Across 77 countries, 72% of those surveyed supported a quick fossil fuel phaseout, while an even higher percentage, 80%, supported stronger climate action in general, according to the poll, called Peoples’ Climate Vote and conducted for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) with the University of Oxford and GeoPoll.

“There can be no doubt that citizens across the world are saying to their leaders, you have to act and, above all, have to act faster,” UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner toldThe Guardian. “This is an issue that almost everyone, everywhere, can agree on.”

People in most major fossil fuel producing nations support a quick energy transition in their own countries, the poll showed. In the United States, the world’s largest oil and gas producer, 53% supported either a “very” or “somewhat” quick phaseout; in Saudi Arabia, the second largest, 75% did so; and in China and India, the leading coal producers, the figures were 80% and 76%, respectively.

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The poll also showed overwhelming support for transnational cooperation, even if it requires setting aside other differences: 86% of those surveyed said want countries to tackle climate change together. Steiner called this a “stunning” level of consensus.

Steiner noted that fossil fuel subsidies distort the market and subvert the public will for change.

“There are very narrow, self-interested agendas that maintain artificially inflated [profits] for fossil fuel-based industries that ultimately are coming at the cost of everyone,” he said.

The poll—the largest standalone public opinion survey on climate change to date, building on a first edition that was run in 2021—clarifies the will of the global public and strengthens the moral case for climate action, commentators said.

“Brilliant to see clear, credible evidence that the overwhelming majority of people across the world—oil rentier economy or not—want to see transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy ‘quickly,'” X user Dave Drabble wrote. “Let’s not let oil and gas interests determine our fate.”

Similarly rejecting the influence of fossil fuel interests, Steiner said, “It is so important we let the people speak for themselves.”

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