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Executive Summary

From October 21, 2021, to January 9, 2022, a research team from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and CVoter conducted a nationally representative survey of 4,619 Indian adults (18+). The study was designed to investigate current public climate change awareness, beliefs, attitudes, policy support, and behavior, as well as public observations of change in local weather and climate patterns and self-reported vulnerability to extreme weather events.

This study builds on our prior Climate Change in the Indian Mind survey, which was conducted in November and December, 2011 (n = 4,031). Where applicable, we describe differences in opinion among the Indian public in the decade since we conducted our previous survey.

Among the key findings of this report:

Global Warming Awareness and Beliefs

  • 54% of people in India say they know either “just a little” about global warming or have never heard of it, while only 9% say they know “a lot.”
  • Additionally, only 35% of people in India say they hear about global warming in the media at least once a week.
  • However, when given a short definition of global warming and how it affects weather patterns, 84% of people in India say they think global warming is happening (15 percentage points higher than in 2011).
  • 57% think global warming is caused mostly by human activities, while 31% think it is caused mostly by natural changes in the environment.
  • 74% say that they have experienced the effects of global warming (+24 percentage points since 2011).

Global Warming Risk Perceptions

  • 81% of people in India are worried about global warming, including 50% who are “very worried.”
  • Large majorities think global warming will harm plant and animal species (80%), people in India (77%), future generations of people (77%), people in their own community (72%), and themselves and their own family (69%).
  • 49% think people in India are already being harmed by global warming (+29 since 2011).
  • Half or more think global warming will cause many more disease epidemics (59%), severe heat waves (54%), severe cyclones (52%), and droughts and water shortages (50%). More than four in ten think global warming will cause many more famines and food shortages (49%) and severe floods (44%).

Support for Climate and Energy Policies

  • Most people in India (55%) say the country should reduce its emissions immediately without waiting for other countries to act (+19 since 2011).
  • 64% say the government of India should be doing more to address global warming.
  • Large majorities favor specific policies:
    • A national program to teach all Indians about global warming (83%, +13 since 2011).
    • A national program to train people for new jobs in the renewable energy industry (83%; not asked previously).
    • Encouraging local communities to build check dams to increase local water supplies (82%, +14).
    • Preserving or expanding forested areas, even if this means less land for agriculture or housing (69%, +12).
    • Requiring new buildings to waste less water and energy, even if this increases their cost (69%, +12).
    • Requiring that new automobiles be more fuel efficient, even if this increases the cost of cars and bus fare (66%, +11).
  • 73% favor India’s participation in the Paris Climate Agreement.
  • 62% think that overall, taking action to reduce global warming will either improve economic growth and provide new jobs (45%) or have no effect on economic growth or jobs (17%). Only 19% think it will reduce economic growth and cost jobs.
  • 59% think India should increase its use of renewable sources of energy, while only 13% think India should increase its use of fossil fuels.
  • 6% are already participating in and 57% are “definitely” willing to join a citizen’s campaign to convince leaders in India to take action on global warming.

Local Weather Events: Observations, Vulnerabilities, and Resilience

  • 76% of people in India have noticed changes in the average annual amount of rainfall in their local area over the last 10 years.
  • 41% say the monsoon has become more predictable in their local area (+17 since 2011).
  • 56% say that hot days have become more frequent in their local area.
  • 74% say it would take their household several months or more to recover from a severe drought, and 63% say it would take several months or more to recover from a severe flood. This includes many who say it would take them several years to recover from a severe drought (28%) or a severe flood (26%).
  • More than half of people in India say their income does not cover their needs and they either have “some difficulties” (26%) or “great difficulties” (27%) as a result.
  • About two in three people in India (65%) say they have few or no friends or relatives they could count on for help if they were in trouble.