- More than two-thirds (68%) of Mauritians say floods have become more severe over the past 10 years; about half (48%) of citizens say the same about cyclones.
- More than seven in 10 citizens (73%) say they have heard of climate change.
- Among those who are aware of climate change:
- Most (86%) say it is making life in Mauritius worse.
- About nine in 10 believe that ordinary citizens can help curb climate change (88%), and nearly two-thirds (65%) want the government to take immediate action to limit climate change, even if it is expensive, causes job losses, or takes a toll on the economy.
- Only small minorities are satisfied with efforts by the government (3%), business and industry (7%), developed countries (3%), and citizens (11%) to fight climate change.
Located in the Indian Ocean, with a tropical climate, Mauritius is considered particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including rising temperatures sea levels, coastal erosion, altered precipitation patterns, and an increase in extreme weather events (World Health Organization, 2021).
The past decade has seen a drastic increase in the number of people affected by climate- related shocks, particularly this year’s tropical storms (International Monetary Fund, 2022; Defimedia.info, 2022). The country is also experiencing frequent and devastating flash floods that severely affect the economy, the ecosystem, and livelihoods (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2021). According to the World Risk Report 2021, Mauritius ranks 51st out of 181 countries for risk of disaster from extreme natural events (Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft, 2021; Government Information Services, 2021).
The government of Mauritius has developed strategies to combat climate change. The Climate Change Act, enacted in 2020, will support the mainstreaming and effective coordination of climate change issues at the highest level (Government Gazette of Mauritius, 2020). In line with its goals for national development, Mauritius has already implemented a number of policies and projects that address both adaptation and mitigation, including a Road Map on Renewable Energy, national tree-planting campaigns, coastal rehabilitation projects, and rainwater harvesting systems (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2021). The authorities have set ambitious objectives in the 2021 Nationally Determined Contribution document under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The key objectives to support climate change mitigation are to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by 40% and to increase the share of energy generation from green sources to 60% by 2030 (International Monetary Fund, 2021).
This dispatch reports on a special survey module included in the Afrobarometer Round 9 questionnaire to explore Mauritians’ experiences and perceptions of climate change.
Findings show that citizens who are aware of climate change are solidly behind government action to address the crisis, even if it comes at a significant economic cost. Mauritians see addressing climate change as a collective responsibility, and they want greater engagement on the issue by the government, business and industry, developed nations, and ordinary citizens.
Overwhelmingly, Mauritians familiar with climate change say it is making life in their country worse. But almost one-quarter of citizens have still not heard of climate change.