April 24, 2006

30-Country Poll Finds Worldwide Consensus That Climate Change Is a Serious Problem

Concern Growing Sharply

Since Katrina, Americans No Longer See Extreme Weather as Natural




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Washington DC A poll of 30 countries from around the world finds that a large majority of people in all countries polled believe that climate change or global warming is a serious problem. No country has more than one in five saying it is not a serious problem. 

The poll of 33,237 people from all major regions of the world was conducted by GlobeScan Incorporated between October 2005 and January 2006, and analyzed in conjunction with WorldPublicOpinion.org. The margin of error for each country was plus or minus 3 percent.    

Across all countries, on average 90 percent say that “climate change or global warming, due to the greenhouse effect” is a serious problem.  Only three countries have less than eight in ten endorsing this view (the US 76%, South Africa 72%, and Kenya 65%). 

In no country do more than one in five say that climate change is not a serious problem.  On average only 8 percent say it is not serious. The highest percentage was found in the US (21%), followed by Kenya (19%), China (17%), and Nigeria (16%).   

Perhaps most significant, in 23 countries a majority says that global warming is a “very serious” problem. On average, 65 percent say that it is a very serious problem.  The only countries where this is not a majority position are six developing countries (China 39%, Indonesia 44%, Kenya 44%, South Africa 44%, Philippines 46%, Nigeria 47%,) and the US (49%).

Concern appears to have grown sharply over the past three years.  Sixteen countries were polled in 2003 as well as 2005.  On average, for all 16 countries the percentage saying that the problem is very serious increased from 49 percent to 61 percent.  In no country did the percentage rating the problem as very serious diminish.  In four countries it was relatively unchanged: China (with 39% very serious), India (65%), Mexico (67%), and Brazil (78%).  China and India, interestingly, are two countries where the government has opposed committing to take action to limit greenhouse gas emissions. 

Steven Kull, director of PIPA, comments: “The universality of the consensus that climate change is a serious problem is quite extraordinary.”

The hurricanes Katrina and Rita may have had an impact on Americans’ perceptions of the role of human causes in extreme weather patterns.  Asked in the fall of 2004 (before the hurricanes) how they viewed “extreme weather patterns, including violent storms, flooding, and drought,” 58 percent said they saw it as “part of a natural pattern.”   In the fall of 2005 (after the hurricanes) when asked the same question, the percentage attributing it to natural causes dropped 19 points to 39 percent.   Now 59 percent of Americans say they see these patterns as unusual.  

With this change Americans have come more in line with world opinion on this question.  In the fall of 2004 GlobeScan found that among 19 countries, on average 40 percent assumed that these extreme weather patterns were due to natural causes and 56 percent saw them as unusual.  The US, with 58 percent saying that they were due to natural causes, was one of the four countries with the highest number holding this view.  Now the US is almost exactly in line with the global average.

GlobeScan president Doug Miller concludes, “A tipping point appears to have been reached on this issue. Concern levels are at historic highs and the reality and impact of climate change has been internalized by most citizens, suggesting that well-designed political and corporate initiatives to reduce the problem will likely receive substantial support.”

Seriousness of Climate Change

Very serious
Somewhat serious
Not very serious
Not at all serious
2006
2003
2006
2003
2006
2003
2006
2003
Argentina
80
64
14
21
2
7
*
1
Brazil
78
74
15
18
4
5
1
2
Canada
57
40
33
41
6
11
3
5
Chile
86
NA
10
NA
2
NA
*
NA
China
39
37
41
42
15
17
2
1
Costa Rica
84
NA
11
NA
4
NA
1
NA
El Salvador
81
NA
16
NA
3
NA
*
NA
Finland
59
NA
30
NA
8
NA
1
NA
France
70
46
24
43
3
8
1
1
Germany
73
54
20
33
5
10
1
2
Great Britain
70
50
21
35
6
9
2
3
Guatemala
83
NA
12
NA
3
NA
1
NA
Honduras
58
NA
23
NA
10
NA
4
NA
India
65
67
25
24
8
5
1
1
Indonesia
44
36
37
43
14
16
2
1
Italy
68
63
26
30
4
5
1
1
Japan
75
NA
23
NA
2
NA
*
NA
Kenya
44
NA
21
NA
13
NA
6
NA
Mexico
67
71
21
23
4
3
4
1
Nicaragua
90
NA
9
NA
*
NA
*
NA
Nigeria
47
35
33
32
13
18
3
8
Panama
73
NA
22
NA
5
NA
*
NA
Philippines
46
NA
40
NA
12
NA
1
NA
Poland
66
NA
26
NA
3
NA
1
NA
Russia
59
43
29
34
7
15
1
1
Saudi Arabia
63
NA
33
NA
3
NA
-
NA
South Africa
44
30
28
32
9
18
5
6
South Korea
63
NA
31
NA
4
NA
*
NA
Turkey
64
37
34
40
2
16
*
1
USA
49
31
27
40
12
13
9
11

These findings are drawn from the 2006 GlobeScan Corporate Social Responsibility Monitor, based on a global public opinion poll with citizens across 30 countries (n=1,000 in most countries), conducted between October 17, 2005 and January 26, 2006 by research institutes in each participating country, under the leadership of GlobeScan. Each country’s findings are considered accurate to within 3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. For more details, please see the Methodology or visit www.pipa.org.

 
For media interviews with participating pollsters (by language of interview):
English Steven Kull
office: +1-202-232-7500
home: +1-301-718-8393
cell: +1-301-254-7500
skull@pipa.org
Doug Miller +44 20 7958 1735
mobile: +44 78 999 77 000
doug.miller@globescan.com
French Clay Ramsay +1-202-232-7500 pipa@his.com
Italian Paolo Anselmi +39 02 4380 9206 paolo.anselmi@eurisko.it
Spanish Dan Lund +5255 5584 3020 dlund@mundamericas.com

GlobeScan Incorporated is a global public opinion and stakeholder research firm with offices in Toronto, London, and Washington. GlobeScan conducts custom research and annual tracking studies on global issues. With a research network spanning 50+ countries, GlobeScan works with global companies, multilateral agencies, national governments, and non-government organizations to deliver research-based insights for successful strategies.

WorldPublicOpinion.org (WPO) is a source of in-depth information and analysis on public opinion from around the world on international issues, published online by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA). PIPA is a joint program of the Center on Policy Attitudes and the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland.