“Half billion people are trying hard, while the other 7 billion are doing nothing at all to stop it.”
Slowing down the climate catastrophe would require systematic change according to the participants of the cross-country survey conducted by the Game On! project, who consider the climate change as one of the most severe global threats of our day. Respondents feel that the issue of climate change has been pushed into the background over the last two years by the Ukrainian-Russian war and its economic consequences, and are less optimistic and more sceptical about the future.
This year, after 2021, the Game On! project once again conducted a cross-country public opinion poll on people’s awareness and views on the climate change. This involved interviewing nearly 3,000 people aged between 18 and 65 in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia. The responses recorded in May-June 2023 showed that people consider the matter of slowing climate change increasingly urgent and relevant due to the extreme, unusual weather events and disasters, and that, as in 2021, human activities (such as industrial production, over-consumption and the depletion of resources for profit in general), and the energy and oil industries in particular, are perceived as having the most damaging impact.
Who is responsible?
While the survey conducted during the first waves of the pandemic showed that a third of respondents feared the emergence of new diseases in 2021, as the Covid epidemic subsides, the increase in the number of natural disasters (such as floods, heat waves, fires, melting ice caps) is what worries Europeans the most; they are less optimistic and less hopeful, they demand positive action and feel that the importance of the climate catastrophe has taken a back seat in the last two years. The results of research published at the end of the 4-year Game On project show that respondents of all ages believe that decisive action is needed, particularly at educational, corporate and political levels, but while men call for action by legislators above all, women believe that individuals have almost as much responsibility as governments and would therefore place emphasis on the work of environmental and civil society organisations.
While many have great expectations for innovations and the effectiveness of new technologies, respondents are collectively disappointed by the credibility of the media: they find that the climate crisis has disappeared from the spotlight in view of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and inflation, even though they see the war itself not only as a geopolitical and humanitarian issue, but also as an environmental disaster. “Bombs going off and tanks of any kind rolling in the streets is not at all compatible with environmental protection," said a 37-year-old Hungarian man. Moreover, as a result of the distortions of news reports in the mass media, the misconception that the climate crisis mainly affects the disadvantaged is still considered widespread. In Germany, for instance, many people feel overwhelmed by all the negative information and highly polarized dialogues in the matter, while in the Czech Republic, misinformation campaigns and climate change deniers are gaining ground.
The time for inaction is over
However, in the face of systematic inaction, more and more people are open to changes aimed at reducing their ecological footprint. Just under a fifth of respondents (19%) believe that the climate change will only impact the coming generations: only 7% of men and 3% of women claimed that the climate crisis will not affect their lives. Today, one out of ten respondents is willing to boycott certain products for the sake of sustainability, and 56% of women and 45% of men have reduced their use of single-use plastic in their everyday lives. 14% of women and 10% of men follow a plant-based diet, and the members of younger generations are more likely (26%) to opt for alternative modes of transport.
Game for survival
Experts say action is key and point out that societies will not adapt well to a warming world if they are not receptive to tackling the problem.
"Outlining disasters and negative scenarios has indeed raised awareness of the importance of climate change, but has done little to spur action. In the meantime, many people have become climate anxious, but didn’t know what they could do in their daily lives for sustainability. That's why we believe that positive stories and playful elements in the Game On project will raise hope, engagement and encourage action," said András Sztaniszláv, Communications Manager of the Game On project.
By the way, the comprehensive research across the aforementioned countries can be read in its entirety by CLICKING HERE, and numerous blog articles are available on the website of the Game On project for those interested in the topic who want to find out about the current events before the UN climate change conference (COP28) starting on November 30.
About the Game On! project:
The “Game On! Don’t let climate change end the game” project is an initiative of a consortium of 10 partner organisations from 8 Central and Eastern European countries. The initiative aims to motivate young people around the world to take action and respond to the existential threat that climate change poses to the future of humanity. The project was made possible thanks to funding from the DEAR (Development Education and Awareness Raising) programme.
The project seeks to mobilise this energy in the region and around the world through "gamification", focusing first on the following three key areas: the conservation of biodiversity, adaptation and mitigation, and climate justice. It raises awareness of the problems caused by climate change and possible solutions through various activities: apps, geocaching, board games, museum exhibitions and theatre plays. In the “climate game”, we are fighting for survival. And we must win.
Game On! project channels: