10/04/2012

AXA/IPSOS' survey on the individual perceptions of climate risk

An international opinion poll of unprecedented scope and scale reveals that the world's populations share many of the same worries and beliefs about climate change. Commissioned by AXA, the research conducted by the IPSOS firm shows that there is a clear global consensus for taking collective action to reduce the impact of climate risks. Is climate change already impacting the day-to-day lives of people around the globe? What concerns has it raised? Do these worries differ from one region to another?

By questioning more than 13,000 people over the age of 18, in 13 countries* in Europe, Asia and America, the online study initiated by AXA provides new insights into the current state of public opinion on climate change. This is the first time that such a large quantity of sociological data on climate has been produced. The results of the study will reinforce the expertise that AXA has acquired through its climate risk modeling work and its support of scientific research and data collection on climate change.

An observable and scientifically proven reality
The first of the study's findings is that climate change is no longer perceived as a relatively controversial, debatable theory, but as an observable truth. Nine out of 10 people polled state that the climate has undergone significant changes in the past 20 years. This belief is almost universally shared (over 95%) in new economies and countries close to the tropics. In the United States as well, 72% agree with this view, despite the country's reputation as being home to many climate skeptics. Moreover, for three out of four respondents, climate change is a phenomenon that has been scientifically proven.

A source of worry
An even more disturbing discovery is that 73% of those polled have observed the effects of climate change where they live. The most commonly cited of these consequences are a constant rise in average temperatures and an increased frequency in extreme weather events (floods, droughts, cyclones, etc.).

Anxiety about climate change has not been eclipsed by the economic recessionfar from it. Eight out of 10 people in mature economies are worried about climate change. This sentiment is almost unanimous among people living in the new economies (Turkey, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and Mexico). But, regardless of geography, the people surveyed feel threatened, even in their everyday lives. They fear conflicts over access to food or water as well as the spread of disease or an increase in human migration.

Collective solutions are possible
Despite this relatively gloomy picture, the survey did reveal a point of brightness: rather than feel resigned, 88% of those polled believe that climate change and its consequences can be limited. In the view of respondents, it is up to the governments, trade and industry, international organizations, and even ordinary citizens to act together to do this. Paradoxically, people in the new economies (and not those in the developed countries) feel most strongly that all countries must contribute.

Expectations for insurers
Insurers are also responsible for addressing climate change. At any rate, that's what a majority of those surveyed believe: 61% stated that insurers should help mitigate climate risk and 57% responded that insurance companies can help people adapt to the consequences of climate change. The expectations that were most frequently expressed were for insurance products to promote more environmentally conscious behavior and collaboration with national and local authorities to reduce climate change.

*France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, the United Kingdom, Turkey, United States, Mexico, Japan, Hong Kong, Indonesia

AXA Paper

AXA Paper on Climate Risks

Controversy over climate change and its consequences on humans has existed in the scientific community for some time. Although they are still frequently debated, a relatively broad consensus on certain events and trends has gradually emerged in recent years. The fourth AXA Paper* dedicated to climate change aims to share this knowledge. To be released early in October, the report brings together the latest scientific research on past climate change and the current disturbances being observed planet-wide. It presents modeling and simulation techniques that are used today as well as the most widely accepted climate projections.

Click here to read the AXA Paper and the IPSOS survey results.

* Following AXA Papers on longevity, retirement and long-term care