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Media Release: 2021 edition of Climate Survey on Southeast Asia Released by ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute

The Climate Change in Southeast Asia Programme released its second survey report on 16 September 2021.

Singapore, 16 September 2021 – A climate survey on Southeast Asians’ attitudes and perceptions conducted by the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute (ISEAS) revealed that Southeast Asians are only marginally optimistic about the potential economic benefits of adopting climate change measures and policies. In addition, almost half of respondents feel that the stimulus measures and COVID-19 spending by their governments did not contribute to a green recovery.

ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute conducted the second iteration of its Southeast Asia Climate Outlook Survey from 11 June to 2 August 2021. Designed to gather insights on the perspectives of Southeast Asian citizens towards a wide variety of climate change issues, the online survey covered topics including climate change impacts, urban mitigation and adaptation, low-carbon transitions and partnership on climate action. It drew a total of 610 responses from citizens of all 10 ASEAN states, and its findings provide a general sense of the prevailing views of Southeast Asian citizens towards climate change issues.

Of interest, about a third of respondents identified the European Union as having demonstrated global climate leadership, but a substantial portion felt that no country had fulfilled the role of climate leader. However, when asked which country could potentially play a more proactive role in climate issues, respondents’ top three choices were the European Union, Japan and the United States. At the regional level, ASEAN’s effectiveness in tackling climate action is in question as the majority of respondents question the regional organisation’s role in climate change.

Commenting on the results, Mr Choi Shing Kwok, Director and CEO of ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute said:

“This is the second year we are conducting the survey.  The results show that Southeast Asians believe that more should be done to address climate change issues, with a majority viewing climate change to be as much of a crisis as the COVID-19 pandemic. Survey respondents also believe that better and more innovative climate change policies can result in higher economic competitiveness. This will translate into strong support for governments and private companies pursuing climate change initiatives in the region.”

Ms Sharon Seah, Coordinator of the Climate Change in Southeast Asia Programme at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, said that the Survey confirmed that climate change remained top of mind for Southeast Asia even amidst the ongoing pandemic. Respondents were unequivocal about the role of governments, businesses and individuals in reducing carbon emissions and the need for this region to cut reliance on coal as soon as possible. This was accompanied by an emerging consensus on the potential of a renewable energy transition.

The full survey results were launched and discussed at an online webinar on 16 September 2021. ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute will continue to track the views of Southeast Asians as climate change issues develop in the coming years.

To access the report, click here.

Media Coverage:

  1. Brinkwire, 17 October 2021 – Southeast Asians are the most vulnerable to climate change, and they are acutely conscious of their vulnerability.
  2. The Star, 19 September 2021 – Asean voices climate fears
  3. Borneo Post, 18 September 2021 – Flooding most serious climate change impact in Southeast Asia
  4. Vietnam Net, 17 September 2021 – Floods, loss of biodiversity, sea level rise remain top concerns in Southeast Asia: Survey
  5. Vietnam Plus, 17 September 2021 – Floods, loss of biodiversity, sea level rise remain top concerns in Southeast Asia: Survey
  6. Vietnam Plus, 17 September 2021 – Survey reveals top climate impacts in Southeast Asia
  7. The Straits Times, 16 September 2021 – Asian Insider: Regional security | Malaysia’s political truce
  8. The Straits Times, 16 September 2021 – Most people in Asean say no to coal, yes to renewables as climate risks grow: Survey
  9. Channel Newsasia, 16 September 2021 – Survey reveals Southeast Asians’ concerns about lack of regional climate change action
  10. Nikkei Asia, 16 September 2021 – Climate change stokes ASEAN food supply fears: regional survey
  11. Vietnam Plus, 16 September 2021 – Những tác động lớn do biến đổi khí hậu gây ra tại Đông Nam Á