Majority thinks tackling climate change is responsibility of national governments

Majority thinks tackling climate change is responsibility of national governments

A representative survey shows what attitudes people around the world have towards combating climate change.

People across the globe see national governments as primarily responsible for tackling climate change (54%), followed by the UN (40%). Businesses and individuals are considered equally responsible (39%), followed by supranational bodies like the European or African Union (33%) and NGOs (30%) (multiple choice). This is the result of a current survey among 17.000 citizens in 17 countries conducted by Kantar on behalf of the Vodafone Institute for Society and Communications.  

Trust in governments abilities varies greatly 

Overall, more than half of those surveyed agree that their government has the will (58%), the skills (58%) and the capacity (59%) to tackle climate change.  While in most countries the approval rates in all three areas are aligned, a discrepancy between will and capacity to tackle climate change can be found in Brazil and the US: Brazilian citizens say their government has more capacity (60%), but less will (45%) so does the US with 65% capacity but only 54% will. A divide occurs across European countries: For example only 49% of the French say their government has the will even though more believe in their capacity (59%), while Swedes see a higher will (61%) but less capacity (50%) of their government.

On average, 80% think strong governmental regulations and measures are inevitable in mitigating climate change. High approval rates can be found in China (93%), India (93%) and Kenya (91%). Regulations are less favoured in the Global North. The US only comes to 62%, the lowest European rate can be found in Slovenia (70%), followed by Germany and Spain (both 71%). Across all countries surveyed, the top three areas respondents felt measures government should focus on are stricter industry regulations (34 %), actions for green agriculture (32 %) and protect biodiversity (32 %), though respondents in China identify promoting the circular economy as the top priority.

84% agree that governments should invest more in tackling climate change 

84% of all respondents say government should be investing more in tackling climate change, with Kenya (96%) and Brazil (94%) at the top and USA (67%) and Sweden (61%) at the bottom of the list. In general, among all countries a shared cost responsibility of state, economy and citizens is favoured by 45% – only Turkey sees the state as primarily responsible (47%). Asked about the individual will to pay more for sustainable alternatives countries of the Global South show higher commitment than the Global North. For example, 86% of Kenyans and 88 % of Indians agree, while only 61% of Germans and 57% of US-Americans agree to that extent.

Asked about the role of digitalisation, 64% are confident that it is a key lever in mitigating climate change. In India every third respondent, and in Egypt and Kenya every fourth respondent, go as far as to say s digitalisation to be the biggest lever. In European countries there is high confidence across most countries that digitalisation is one lever to combat climate change. Highest rates in Italy (70%), Romania (64%), Spain (62%).

Hannes Ametsreiter, CEO Vodafone Germany: “The survey demonstrates the key role citizens see national governments playing in tackling climate change. Driving change does not only come from increased regulation: Many companies are already moving forward on their own responsibility and pursue strict climate targets on the way to net zero emissions. In this context, technology and innovation are decisive levers and it is reassuring that the majority of respondents also consider digitalisation a solution in reaching climate goals.”

Prof. Dr. Dr. Dr. h.c. Franz-Josef Radermacher, FAW/n Ulm and member of the advisory board of the Vodafone Institute: “COP26 showed that consideration of the North-South issue is of central importance in climate negotiations, especially regarding the question of justice. This makes the results interesting, such as the North-South divide in willingness to pay, which may be surprising at first. On closer look, however, this should not be interpreted as a general lack of commitment by the “rich” North. In these countries actual consumer behaviour is already more sustainably oriented with corresponding cost responsibility. And this supports the most important finding of the survey: the severe danger of climate change is globally recognized by the population, and strict measures are desired. This creates pressure for action. 

The Global Future Pulse Sustainability (PDF)


The online survey was conducted by Kantar in the following countries: Brazil, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Kenya, Romania, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom, USA. A 1,000 interviews were conducted in each country (17,000 interviews in total). All participants in the survey were at least 16 years old. The interviews were conducted between 21 September and 4 October 2021. Based on a current listing of the OECD we consider the countries of USA, UK, France, Germany, Sweden, France, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia, Spain as Global North. The countries of China, India, Kenya, Egypt, Turkey, South Africa, Brazil are considered as Global South.