Survey Results from “Getting to a 2020s Green Breakthrough”

Between January 28th and April 1st of 2020, we asked global experts working on climate change, sustainable finance, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and the environment a question: how can policy, markets, and people better align to address the climate crisis and promote a global green economy in the 2020s?

The online survey contained 11 total questions and received approximately 1,980 responses. The questions were divided into two main sections: a look back at what we can learn from the 2010s and a look forward at new approaches to accelerate change in the 2020s.

The key takeaways include:

  • A plurality of respondents attributed the sharp rise in awareness about climate change in the 2010s to highly publicized severe weather events, with less credit given to political leaders or the scientific community. However, many respondents warned against too closely linking the phrase “climate change” to these events as this association is viewed as “elitist” and “vague” to the general population.
  • When asked to name the development that had the most tangible impact on realizing green progress in the 2010s, a strong majority of respondents listed either market factors (e.g. cheaper renewables, carbon taxes, green bonds) or people-driven movements (e.g. Fridays for Future, fossil fuel divestment, plastics ban).  
  • When asked why exploration and subsidies for fossil fuels persisted in the 2010s, a plurality of respondents credited the strength of the fossil fuel lobby, more than economic factors like pricing, return on investment or costs committed in existing infrastructure.
  • Most respondents believe that placing climate risk at the center of economic decision-making holds the greatest potential to accelerate global climate action in the 2020s. Many of these respondents also suggested that finance ministers play a greater role in 2020s climate diplomacy given their clout in most national governments compared to environment ministers.
  • Many respondents emphasized education as a key to unlocking green progress in the 2020s, making climate-related instruction mandatory in primary and secondary education; shifting the perceived impacts of climate change from nature to humans; and mainstreaming the topic to a wider range of stakeholders in business.
  • Many respondents supported dropping coal companies from funds run by asset managers in the 2020s, yet almost none supported a phase out of coal-producers by state-backed enterprises in China and India. In a similar vein, almost no respondents believed that much greater focus should be on China and India to significantly reduce their emissions in the 2020s.
  • Most respondents advocated a more “bottom-up” approach to accelerating change in the 2020s, citing voter pressure on governments, investor pressure on companies and grassroots pressure as the most likely pathways to improvements in the next decade.

This survey is the foundation for more in-depth research on the topic, including follow-up interviews with respondents to garner more nuance to their replies, workshops with a cross-section of stakeholders, and ultimately a published study presenting these results. For future information on this project as well as the raw data from the 2020 survey, please contact Jeremy Tamanini by email jeremy at dualcitizeninc dot com.

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