Large majorities of the Indian public are Alarmed or Concerned about global warming, according to a new report from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and CVoter International.
The report, titled “Global Warming’s Four Indias, 2022” identifies four unique audiences within the Indian public that each respond differently to the issue of climate change: The Alarmed, the Concerned, the Cautious, and the Disengaged.
A majority of the Indian population are Alarmed (54%) – the group most convinced of the reality and dangers of global warming. The Concerned (29%) are also convinced global warming is happening and a serious threat but know less about it and view it as a less immediate threat than do the Alarmed. The Alarmed are the most supportive of political and national action to address global warming and are motivated to take individual action.
The two smaller segments are the Cautious (11%) and Disengaged (7%). The Cautious think global warming is happening but are less certain of the causes and are less likely to view it as a serious, immediate threat that will personally affect them.
They support climate and energy policies but are less supportive of national action and less motivated to take individual action compared with the Alarmed and Concerned. The Disengaged know very little about global warming, rarely or never engage with the issue, and often say they don’t know or provide no response to questions about it.
“One of the first rules of effective communication is to ‘know your audience’,” said Dr. Anthony Leiserowitz, project co-lead at the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. “This analysis should help governments, journalists, companies, and advocates better understand and engage their key audiences on the issue of climate change and its solutions.”
Global warming risk perceptions differ substantially among the Four Indias. For example, 93% of the Alarmed and 59% of the Concerned, but only 24% of the Cautious and just 1% of the Disengaged think global warming will harm themselves and their family either “a great deal” or “a moderate amount.” The Disengaged are the most likely segment to say they don’t know or don’t have an opinion.
“Majorities in all four segments have noticed changes in local weather patterns, including rainfall,” said Dr. Jagadish Thaker, project co-lead at the University of Queensland. “The report also illustrates how social and economic inequalities increase climate vulnerability among diverse Indian populations.”
The most favored policies across these three segments include developing a national program to teach Indians about global warming (91%, 88%, and 74%, respectively), developing a national program to train people for renewable energy jobs (90%, 88%, and 75%), and encouraging local communities to build check dams to increase local water supplies (89%, 89%, and 75%). Few of the Disengaged favor these climate and energy policies (ranging from 8% to 12% across policies).
“The message from the Indian public is clear,” said Yashwant Deshmukh, founder and director of CVoter International. “Indians of all kinds are concerned about climate change, support climate policies, and want leadership from their governments.”
These and many other important findings come from a nationally representative survey conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and CVoter International. The telephone survey of 4,619 Indian adults (18+), was conducted from October 2021 to January 2022.