LONDON - As governments prepare to meet in Mexico for the Cancun climate summit, a new global poll reveals that concern about climate change has fallen sharply across OECD countries in the past year, but that citizens in some major developing nations have become more concerned about the issue.
The 26-country poll, conducted by GlobeScan, asked a total of 13,389 people to rate the seriousness of a range of environmental problems including climate change.
Results from the 14 countries where GlobeScan has tracked opinion regularly since 1998 reveal that concern has fallen away particularly sharply on climate change. The proportion of people rating climate change as a “very serious” problem fell from 61 percent to 53 percent this year, after many years of increasing concern.
While concern about climate change fell in many industrialised nations including the UK (down from 59 percent to 43 percent “very serious”), the USA (down from 45 percent to 41 percent), and Germany (down from 61 percent to 47 percent), the findings also show that concern has risen in the last year in two major emerging economies: India (up from 45 percent to 53 percent) and Brazil (up from 86 percent to 92 percent).
Other findings from the poll show that the proportion of people across tracking countries who believe that “the dangers of climate change are exaggerated” has risen from 42 percent in 2008 to 48 percent this year:
GlobeScan Senior Vice-President Chris Coulter commented: “We are witnessing a North-South divide around climate change where concern is stable or growing in emerging economies while concern has declined in Europe and North America. The combined effects of economic recession, the confusing results from last year’s Copenhagen climate conference, and the controversy surrounding climate science seem to have shaken the belief of people in industrialized countries that climate change is an urgent problem that needs to be addressed, and makes it even less likely that governments will feel the pressure to reach a strong agreement in Cancun. We may, however, see stronger than expected leadership from key developing countries in response to the significant levels of concern expressed by their populations.”