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Media Release: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute releases new climate survey results on Southeast Asia

Singapore, 17 December 2020 – A new climate survey on Southeast Asians’ attitudes and perceptions conducted by the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute revealed that respondents perceived the top climate impacts in the region to be: floods, loss of biodiversity and sea level rise, and look to national governments, individuals and businesses and industries to take responsibility for tackling climate change. Where climate measures were concerned, respondents felt that governments and businesses, not individuals, should bear most of the costs of taking measures to mitigate climate change.

ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute conducted its first Southeast Asia Climate Outlook Survey from 3 August 2020 to 18 September 2020. Designed to provide insights on climate change perspectives among Southeast Asian citizens, the online survey covered topics such as climate change impacts, mitigation, adaptation, the transition to low-carbon economies and partnership on climate action. It drew a total of 502 respondents from all ten ASEAN member states, and its findings serve as a barometer of general views and attitudes of Southeast Asian citizens towards climate change issues.

Of interest, when compared with the current pandemic crisis, Southeast Asians expected their governments to equally prioritise both the climate emergency and Covid-19. Yet Southeast Asians were not entirely sure of their countries’ climate policies when asked about the Nationally Determined Contributions made by their respective governments. Respondents were also divided over whether ASEAN is effective in dealing with climate change as a regional organisation.

Commenting on the results, Mr Choi Shing Kwok, Director of ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute said: “This survey brings to light regional perceptions about climate change that policy makers need to know and act upon. The results show that while intellectual debates may still be raging elsewhere, Southeast Asians do recognise the human cause of the problem and link real local threats to the ongoing climate phenomena. Survey respondents also held a balanced and pragmatic approach to the problem that holds all stakeholders, including themselves as individuals, responsible for tackling the problem. This provides a sound basis for stronger and swifter climate action that is needed in the region.”

Ms Sharon Seah, Coordinator of the Climate Change in Southeast Asia Programme at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute said that Southeast Asia had long known of the devastation that climate change can bring to this region. The survey, which is the first ever to be conducted in this region, provided a baseline on the climate attitudes of Southeast Asia and can act as a useful guide to governments and businesses on what citizens and consumers expected of them. The fact that the survey was taken in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic and yet citizens recognised the urgency of the climate emergency should not be dismissed by governments.

The full survey results were launched and discussed over an online webinar on 17 December 2020. ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute plans to conduct the Southeast Asia Climate Outlook Survey annually to provide a time series of data as climate change issues and the views of Southeast Asian citizens continue to evolve.

To download the full survey report, click here.

Media Coverage:

  1. Lianhe Zaobao, 11 January 2021 – 亚细安民众调查:应对气候变化 与抗疫同等重要
  2. 诗华日报, 11 January 2021 – 东盟民调:应对气候变化与抗疫一样重要
  3. Asia Tonight, 17 December 2020 – Climate Change in Southeast Asia
  4. VietnamPlus, 17 December 2020 – Survey reveals top climate impacts in Southeast Asia

About ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute (ISEAS)

ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute (formerly Institute of Southeast Asian Studies) was established as an autonomous organization in 1968. It is a regional centre dedicated to the study of socio-political, security, and economic trends and developments in Southeast Asia and its wider geostrategic and economic environment. The Institute’s research programmes are the Regional Economic Studies (RES, including ASEAN and APEC), Regional Strategic and Political Studies (RSPS), and Regional Social and Cultural Studies (RSCS).

The Climate Change in Southeast Asia Programme (CCSEAP) was established in 2020 to examine the phenomenon of climate change, its impact, and policy responses across the region and in key Southeast Asian countries and to advance climate discourse and knowledge in Southeast Asia.