1,000 Experts & Leaders Say "Climate Action Failure" is Perceived as Top Global Risk

1,000 Experts & Leaders Say "Climate Action Failure" is Perceived as Top Global Risk

"Climate action failure" is perceived as the number one global threat over the next decade, according to the World Economic Forum's annual Global Risks Report 2022. Perceived risk concerns were gathered from a group of respondents, made up of 1,000 experts and leaders. From there, the report breaks those concerns down across three timeframes: short-, medium-, and long-term. In each, climate change concerns come out on top. In the short term (next 0-2 years), an uneven recovery from COVID-19 ranked high along with extreme weather and livelihood crises, both of which are exacerbated by climate change. In the long term (5-10 years), nearly all concerns relate to climate change. Beyond a failure to act on climate, people are concerned about extreme weather, biodiversity loss, natural resource crises, and climate migration.

Why This Matters

The World Economic Forum's report is a big-picture look at everything from international crime to data security to debt crises -- and still, the climate crisis tops the list. "The health of the planet, however, remains a constant concern," the summary notes. In addition to the 1,000 respondents, the report "also draws on the views of over 12,000 country-level leaders" across 124 countries, thus demonstrating the global nature and magnitude of climate risk concerns.

From The Report

Some key data points and quotes from the full report:

  • 61.2% of respondents feel "concerned" about the world
  • 23% said their outlook is "worried"
  • "While GRPS respondents' concern about environmental degradation predates the pandemic, increasing concern with climate action failure reveals respondents' lack of faith in the world's ability to contain climate change, not least because of the societal fractures and economic risks that have deepened."
  • "The resulting global divergence will create tensions -- within and across borders -- that risk worsening the pandemic's cascading impacts and complicating the coordination needed to tackle common challenges including strengthening climate action."

Regarding the report as a whole, Conservation International CEO Dr. M. Sanjayan states:

This year's Global Risks Report concludes that the top five long-term risks to our world are all environmental. The World Economic Forum finds public- and private-sector leaders in broad agreement… decisive climate action cannot wait.…To date, the industrialized world has consistently failed to make good on their climate promises… As we look ahead to COP27, governments, companies, and financial institutions must not only increase their own decarbonization ambitions -- they must make fairness a priority [for] communities on the frontlines of climate change.

Reuters: World Economic Forum unveils 2022 report on global risks, January 11, 2022.