In 2021, we (Communication for Change), in collaboration with Development Dialogue Asia, conducted a nationally representative survey (N=3,940) to measure public opinions about climate change and environmental protection. We found that 79% of Indonesians were concerned or very concerned about deforestation. However, 60% answered that deforestation was justifiable if it could create jobs, lift people out of poverty, and build public infrastructure.
We followed up the survey in 2022 with a qualitative study to test messages that can make climate-uninformed Indonesians better understand climate change and feel the urgency to take action to mitigate its impact. One key finding was that when respondents were made aware that coal burning was the main source of electricity and emissions, they became helpless. On the one hand, they saw this as a dilemma only the government could resolve. But on the other, they believed they could do nothing to influence the government.
Both studies reveal that it does not take much to make Indonesians see that development or (economic) growth can conflict with sustainability. At best, this perceived conflict can paralyze them; at worst, it can make them deprioritize sustainability. But where does this perceived conflict come from?