Climate week: the world is divided on the urgency to fight against the rise in temperatures, according to a survey


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People around the world are increasingly worried about climate change, according to a new global poll.

But respondents had very different attitudes about the level of urgency required to tackle the problem.

Large majorities in poorer countries strongly agreed to tackle climate change with the same vigor as Covid-19.

However, in richer countries, support for early action was much more subdued.

Meanwhile, the Prince of Wales has warned that the climate crisis will ‘eclipse’ the impact of the coronavirus.

The poll, carried out by Globescan, provides new evidence that populations around the world remain very concerned about climate change, despite the pandemic and its subsequent economic impact.

In the 27 countries studied, around 90% of people consider climate change to be a very serious or somewhat serious problem.

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Heat waves have been experienced in many parts of the world this year

This finding has been reinforced in recent years.

There was a sharp increase in this sense of urgency among respondents in Canada, France, India, Kenya, Nigeria and the United States.

In the United States, that number of people perceiving the problem as serious or very serious rose from just over 60% in 2014 to 81% in June of this year when the poll was conducted – despite the well-known skepticism of the President Trump on the matter.

During the same period, serious concerns about climate change in India rose from 70% to 93% of respondents.

According to Eric Whan of Globescan pollsters, the covid crisis has heightened people’s sense of the threat of rising temperatures.

“This is a year of vulnerability and exacerbation of inequality and the people most likely to be disturbed feel the greatest degree of gravity,” he told BBC News.

But when people were asked if their governments should address the problem with the same urgency that they had fought the coronavirus pandemic, major differences between rich and poor began to emerge.

Japan, Sweden, Australia, United States and United Kingdom all have less than 45% of respondents agreeing to urgent action.

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Intense storms and flooding have also been cited as evidence of climate change

In Kenya, Mexico, Argentina, Turkey and Nigeria, the figure was well over 70% in all.

Likewise, when asked who would suffer the most, over 60% of respondents in Brazil, Kenya, Turkey, Nigeria and South Africa strongly agreed that it would be the poor.

But in Japan, Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries, less than 40% strongly believe that the poor will bear the brunt.

One of the keys to these discrepancies could perhaps lie in personal experience of climate change.

In the UK, only 13% of those polled said they had been personally affected by the rise in temperatures, compared with 34% who said they were personally affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

There were similar differences in richer countries like Sweden, the United States, and Japan.

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California fires reportedly made worse by rising temperatures and drought

But in Mexico, Turkey and Vietnam, more than 50% of those polled said they had personal experience of climate change.

“I think back to Hurricane Katrina, which marked a turning point in more than two decades of monitoring public opinion on climate change,” said Eric Whan.

“There was a real shock in the system and the poll numbers changed a lot, as more and more people realized that it was a serious problem, that it was man-made and that we are in fact vulnerable and not particularly protected. ”

The survey was conducted online with samples of 1,000 adults in each of the 27 countries.

It was released to mark the start of Climate Week 2020 in New York City, which is expected to be the largest climate summit to be held this year and held in coordination with the UN.

Follow Matt on Twitter @mattmcgrathbbc.


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