27 August 2012 – A new national study in India finds six distinct groups within the Indian public that respond to the issue of climate change in very different ways, according to a new report, “Global Warming’s Six Indias” by researchers at Yale University.
“One of the first rules of effective communication is ‘know your audience,’” said Dr. Anthony Leiserowitz, lead author of the report. “This study should help climate change communicators and educators in India raise public awareness and understanding of climate change, build public support for government policies, and inform decision-making and behavior.”
The study, based on a national survey conducted by researchers at Yale University, GlobeScan and C-Voter in the fall of 2011 and funded by the Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, found that these “Six Indias” include:
The Informed are the most convinced that global warming is happening, caused by humans and poses an imminent threat to themselves, India, and future generations. They are very worried about the threat and strongly support government policies, including making more electricity from solar and wind power, requiring new buildings to waste less water and energy, requiring automobiles to be more fuel efficient, and a national program to teach Indians about global warming.
Most of the Experienced say they know just a little about global warming, or have never heard of it. When provided a short definition, however, most say global warming is happening and human caused. Most say the issue is important to them, and most – more than any other group – say they have personally experienced the effects of global warming. Large majorities also believe that, due to global warming, India will experience many more severe cyclones, extinctions of plant and animal species, famines and food shortages, droughts and water shortages, severe heat waves, disease epidemics, and severe floods over the next 20 years. Like the Informed, they strongly support government policies to address the problem.
Most of the Undecided say they know just a little about global warming, or have never heard of it. When provided a short definition, however, virtually all say global warming is happening, but 4 out of 10 say it is caused by natural changes in the environment. Few say they have personally experienced the effects of global warming and they perceive it as both a more distant and less harmful threat than the Informed or Experienced. They tend to only “somewhat support” government policies. About half say they could easily change their mind about the issue.
Most of the Unconcerned say they know just a little about global warming, or have never heard of it. When provided a short definition, however, most say it is happening, but 4 out of 10 say it is caused by natural changes in the environment. But unlike most other groups, only about one in four are worried about global warming. Likewise, only one in five say it is an important issue to them personally. They tend to only “somewhat support” government policies.
Very few of the Indifferent know anything about global warming. When provided a short definition, over half think it is happening, but are split as to whether global warming is human caused or natural. Few are worried about global warming or say it is a very or somewhat important issue. Most believe global warming will only start harming Indians 50 or more years from now, if ever. Most also believe that, over the next 20 years, global warming will cause India to experience fewer severe cyclones, extinctions of plant and animal species, famines and food shortages, droughts and water shortages, severe heat waves, or disease epidemics. Finally, most of the Indifferent oppose government policies.
Most of the Disengaged have never heard of global warming. Even when provided a short definition, they say they “don’t know” whether it is happening, or what causes it. The Disengaged are generally not worried about global warming, nor do they consider it important. They have few opinions about the effects of global warming, when it will start causing problems, or government policies.
“Public opinion in India is currently delicately balanced among these six audiences, which is a potential threat to policy implementation; but also an opportunity for public education and engagement. While 43% of Indians are Informed or Experienced, an almost equal number of 42% are Unconcerned, Indifferent or Disengaged. The remaining 15% are Undecided. In a nutshell; this is a tie of public sentiment on one of the most important issues of our times,” said Yashwant Deshmukh of CVoter. “This information can be used to design better climate change policies, public education programs, and implementation strategies; else we risk alienating hundreds of millions of Indians from this critical issue.”
The full report is available for download here.
In November and December of 2011, a research team from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, GlobeScan Incorporated, and C-Voter conducted a national survey of 4,031 Indian adults, using a combined urban and rural sample. The study was designed to investigate the current state of public climate change awareness, beliefs, attitudes, policy support, and behaviors, as well as public observations of changes in local weather and climate patterns and self-reported vulnerability to extreme weather events. Fieldwork in India was conducted by C-Voter and Markelytics. Funding was provided by the Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation and the Rice Family Foundation.
The YPCCC, in the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies at Yale University, conducts scientific research on public environmental knowledge, risk perceptions, decision-making and behavior and empowers educators and communicators with knowledge, training, and tools to advance public understanding and engagement with climate change science and solutions. We conduct research and outreach at the global, national, state and local levels in partnership with various stakeholders, including government, business, academia, the media, and civil society.
For more information, visit environment.yale.edu/climate/
For 25 years, GlobeScan has helped clients measure and build value-generating relationships with their stakeholders. Uniquely placed at the nexus of reputation, brand and sustainability, we partner with clients to build trust, drive engagement and inspire innovation within, around and beyond their organizations.
For more information, visit www.GlobeScan.com
CVOTER started as an initiative to act as an interface between the people and the polity. Almost two decades after our journey began, we have not only established ourselves as South Asia's largest Indian Owned media and stakeholder research agency but have also managed to make a foray into both print and electronic media, social research, market research and consultancy services. Backed by state-of-the-art data management and analysis software and a group of highly motivated who look at the future as an era of limitless possibilities, Team Cvoter believes in facilitating communication between people.
For more information, visit www.TeamCVoter.com