Three surveys last week on public attitudes towards climate change revealed significant concerns of a broad sweep of people across the globe. Overwhelmingly, the public in nations rich and poor see climate change as a threat. They feel anxious about it and fear for the future. But most especially, they are crying out for leadership on the issue. For many years, the headlines have been similar. The impact of climate change is growing, greenhouse gas emissions are continuing to rise and the world must do more to cut those emissions before things get worse. Last Friday, United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres once again sounded the alarm, saying that, collectively, the national climate pledges of all nations are far off course and will put the world on track towards warming up to a dangerous 2.7 deg C by the end of this century.
It is imperative that world leaders commit to deeper emissions cuts this year if COP26, the UN climate change conference in Glasgow in November, is going to have any impact. And it is essential that wealthy nations go beyond just making bold pledges. They must finally deliver the long-promised US$100 billion (S$135 billion) in annual climate finance for poorer nations. The evidence behind the concerns of survey respondents is increasingly disturbing. More extreme weather and a continued lack of action by governments and businesses have driven global anxiety and anger about climate change and what the future holds.