Fewer than one person in three thinks switching to a plant-based diet is a good way to combat climate change, according to a major poll carried out by the United Nations.
The poll was carried out by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) with Oxford University, using innovative methods including reaching young people via gaming platform to elicit their views.
The survey reached half a million people under the age of 18, in 50 countries representing half of the world’s population.
Respondents were asked first if they agreed that man-made climate change is a global emergency, and were then asked whether they support emergency action in 18 policies covering six policy areas: economy, energy, transport, food & farms, nature and protecting people.
Almost two in three people (64%) of those polled agree climate change is a global emergency, although there are wide differences between countries – UK and Italy 81%, Japan 79%, but Sri Lanka 55% and Moldavia only 50%.
When it comes to the policies aimed at combatting climate change, the most popular were the protection of land and forests (54%), investment in renewable energy (53%) and climate-friendly agriculture (52%).
One potential solution, and one that is within the capability of every individual, scored least well of all 18 policies: adopting and promoting a plant-based diet. Despite the fact that many people across the world eat little or no meat for religious, cultural or financial reasons, only 30% of people polled on average agreed a plant-based diet would be a useful tool against climate change.
That’s a lower score than affordable insurance, or information on how products are made.
“The results of the survey clearly illustrate that urgent climate action has broad support amongst people around the globe, across nationalities, age, gender and education level,” said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner.
“But more than that, the poll reveals how people want their policymakers to tackle the crisis. From climate-friendly farming to protecting nature and investing in a green recovery from COVID-19, the survey brings the voice of the people to the forefront of the climate debate. It signals ways in which countries can move forward with public support as we work together to tackle this enormous challenge.”