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Western Countries Are Less Likely to Think Climate Change Will Affect Their Lives

On the eve of the UN’s major climate conference next week, a new global survey by YouGov found that people in the West are least likely to think that climate change will significantly impact their lives.

The poll of 30,000 people found that concerns are much higher in the Middle East and the Far East. For example, 75% of Filipinos and 65% of Qataris expect to have their lives disrupted in a large way. 

Those in Scandinavia were least concerned, followed by respondents in Great Britain, the United States and Germany, with only 16-24% of respondents anticipating a “great deal of impact” from climate change. The European country with the highest level of concern is Spain.

COP25, the U.N.’s conference on climate change, will take place from Dec. 2-13 in Madrid, Spain, where government representatives, organizations and businesses will discuss the U.N.’s ambitions regarding climate change.

Health and Affordability Drive Meat Consumption in US

changes in meat consumption chart

Source: Kansas State University

Consumption of chicken in the United States increased by 160% over the course of 50 years, compared to consumption of beef and pork, which decreased by 31% and 6%, respectively, according to a study from Kansas State University. 

Chicken is the preferred option in the American diet because of its affordability, a reputation as a healthier meat and because chicken farming produces fewer greenhouse gases. While one-half of survey respondents say they incorporate beef into their daily meals, one-in-six eats plant-based protein. Plant-based meat production — popular among younger generations — is likely to increase if producers can achieve prices closer to the cost of chicken. 

The cost of some plant-based options have already improved, and plant-based food companies can leverage their health and environmental benefits to attract consumers. Plant-based proteins scored the highest on animal welfare and health and environmental concerns in the study.

More Households Turn to Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa During COVID-19

Source: World Bank

Agriculture was the main source of livelihood for smaller households in sub-Saharan Africa last year. More households entered the industry than exited, and more urban households joined the industry compared to rural households, perhaps due to food insecurity and loss of employment. In Nigeria alone, the percentage of households involved in agriculture increased from 76% to 84% since the start of COVID-19. 

Despite agriculture acting as a “buffer” against COVID-related disruptions, farmers are struggling to access resources, such as feed, animal health services and markets. In Nigeria, 89% of livestock households said they had limited access to feed, for instance, and 82% of households said they had limited access to markets.

Similar to the 2008 global economic crisis, the agricultural sector absorbed some of the shock from COVID-19 for low-income households in 2020. But moving forward, key stakeholders in the industry will have to address the supply chain disruptions from COVID-19, along with new climate risks.

2020 Was a Record-Breaking Year for Electric Car Sales

Source: International Energy Agency (IEA)

Last year, electric car sales in Europe more than doubled over 2019 levels — increasing 135% year-over-year. Europe and China — the drivers of the electric car market in 2020 — accounted for about 1.3 million sales last year, according to IEA. Japan and Australia were the only large markets that saw a higher drop in electric car sales than overall car sales.

Although pandemic-related lockdowns impacted electric car sales at first, early indicators showed market resilience — such as policy support, increased purchase incentives, lower battery costs, newer technology and interest from electric car buyers. IEA estimates show that 2020 was “a record-breaking year for electric mobility,” surpassing three million sales worldwide.

Multiple countries announced plans to phase out internal combustion vehicles to align with net-zero emissions by 2050. To do so, the share of electric vehicles in global sales must climb to around 50% by 2030. Major vehicle companies are getting on board. For instance, Ford announced its plan to target an “all-electric” offering for vehicles in Europe by 2030. 

 

Public in Rich Nations Feel Optimistic About Future Crisis Responses

Source: Pew Research Center

The majority of respondents in Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and France feel optimistic about future public health emergency strategies from their government, according to Pew Research Center. 

Nearly eight-in-10 respondents said Germany has handled the coronavirus pandemic successfully. Despite their optimism, the American public reported a 6% drop in approval rating for their country’s response to COVID-19 from June to November. Ideology and the current status of the economy played a major role in how respondents rated their country’s response to the coronavirus.

As countries around the world ponder how to ramp up the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, few respondents found it acceptable for their government to implement mandatory vaccination measures. The U.K., which had the third-highest vaccination rate worldwide, was the only exception, with 60% of respondents stating they would accept a vaccination program. Pew found that trust in national government is associated with more acceptance of a government-required program.

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