According to Carlos Rittl, Executive Secretary of the Observatorio de Clima, “The average citizen has an excellent understanding about the causes of climate change and its impacts on their everyday life. They are dissatisfied with the low level of priority that government attributes to the issue, which they consider crucial for the country´s development.”
In March 2015, Datafolha institute, a research group based in São Paulo, undertook a public opinion survey commissioned by Greenpeace Brazil, and the Climate Observatory (Observatório do Clima – OC) to find out what Brazilians think about climate change.
They interviewed 2,100 people from across the country, between 11 and 13 March 2015. The sample includes individuals over 16 years of age, from all economic classes, in 143 municipalities ranging in size from small cities to metropolitan areas. Distribution of interviewees per region was defined according to Brazilian demographics:
North and Centre West – 15 %, where the Amazon and Cerrado ecosystems are being threatened by deforestation and land use change for cattle ranching and agriculture.
Northeast – 28%, where there are large areas threatened by droughts and desertification, the population is poor, the HDI, and GDP tend to be lower.
Southeast – 43% This is the most populated and urbanized region, including states and cities with the highest GDP in the country.
South – 15% The southern states are more developed, with higher levels of education, income and quality of life. Industries and agriculture are the main source of revenues.
According to the survey, the majority of interviewees knew about global warming and climate change (88%). Twenty-eight% declared being knowledgeable, 43% knew something, and 12% said they knew nothing about the subject. Most interviewees consider climate change to be a concern (85%), and a significant 91% regards global warming as a threat to the future of the planet.
Residents of the North and Centre West regions were better informed about the subject. Among the most educated, those who declared to be informed were 52% of the sample, and among the more affluent, 62% said they knew about climate change. Those who consider that it is already affecting Brazil reach 95% of the sample, and 90% relate the energy and water crises to climate change.
Brazilians are also aware of the drivers of climate change: in the opinion of 95% of the interviewees deforestation is the main cause. Furthermore, 93% identified fossil fuel burning as a cause. The majority (mostly over three quarters of the sample) also identified industrial activities, coal burning, agriculture and waste treatment as causes for global warming.
When asked about mitigation measures, the interviewees identified that reducing deforestation was beneficial (84%); investing in renewable energies was also considered mostly beneficial by the majority (83%); transport measures were regarded by 81%. More than half of the interviewees consider that the federal government is not doing enough to address the problem (56%), most of them from the Northeast part of the country. This is the prevailing opinion particularly among the younger and more affluent population in the region.
Most are also aware of the potential of solar energy (74% nationally), 40% would be interested in making better use of solar power, especially in the Southeast (47%). The trend increases amongst the most educated (54%) and affluent interviewees (63%). When presented with the choice for solar energy with a fiscal incentive, people were more willing to declare their interest in installing a system (71%). However, 29% declared they weren´t interested at all, regardless of any incentives.
According to Carlos Rittl, Executive Secretary of the OC, “The average citizen has an excellent understanding about the causes of climate change and its impacts on their everyday life. They are dissatisfied with the low level of priority that government attributes to the issue, which they consider crucial for the country´s development.”
The survey results are corroborated by the Pew Center´s global research published in November 2015. Brazilians were among the most concerned of people in 40 countries covered by the survey.
Report on the 2015 Survey by the research institute Datafolha, commissioned by Greenpeace and the Climate Observatory in Brazil. Available at: https://secured-static.greenpeace.org/brasil/Global/brasil/image/2015/Maio/datafolha%20clima.pdf
News on the Pew Center´s research: https://oglobo.globo.com/sociedade/sustentabilidade/brasil-o-pais-mais-preocupado-com-clima-diz-pesquisa-1-17974048
News on the Pew Center´s website about the 2015 survey: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/18/what-the-world-thinks-about-climate-change-in-7-charts/