Survey: 9 in 10 world citizens wants deal to cut CO2 emissions by more than 25% urgently
Published 31st October 2009 - 24 comments - 1615 views -
Following the debate on climate change one could easily get the impression that the public is confused about what information to believe and reluctant to commit to policies. But that is wrong.
A project called World Wide Views On Global Warming (WWViews) was created to measure the sentiments of the peoples of the world. Below is a summary of the results, a video interview with a citizen meeting facilitator and bit of reflection.
The people have spoken: Seal the Deal!
Some might be pinching their arms. But from the Summary of World Results:
"91% of the citizens participating in WWViews find it URGENT to make a global climate deal at COP15"
More than just an average this agreement to urgent action is shared across different types of countries and continents. And most of the remaining 9% are in the "can wait a few years" group. The "when climate change occurs" and "never ever" groups are minorities to say the least.
"89% of the citizen participants in WWViews think Annex I countries' short-term target for emission reductions should be 25-40% or higher"
Of these 31% wants Annex I countries to cut by more than 40%. But in this question there is also a large fraction who thinks both developing economies (China, India) and especially low income developing countries (Mali, Bolivia) should be given some time and only have emission reduction targets later.
Hence the headline of this article: 9 in 10 world citizens wants a deal to cut CO2 emissions by more than 25% urgently (which is probably an accurate statement while strictly speaking not statistically precise). Whatever way we twist and turn it: public support for a progressive and binding agreement at COP15 is solid.
As the questions get tougher the level of agreement wanes. Such as the "who should pay" question. Which is, after all, not that disputed: it's either "all countries" (29%), "all countries except Least Developed Countries" (55%) or "Only Annex I countries" (10%). What people do agree on is the general approach: an international institution:
87% agree "a global financial system [should] be instituted in order to generate funds for mitigation and adaption in developing countries".
It seems to be clear that if world leaders fail to agree to strong action at COP15 they are letting down the peoples they are supposed to represent?
A Danish survey worker talking about the citizen meetings
What kind of people did you talk to? Did participants discuss soberly or fight verbally? Did they change their minds in the course of discussion? How did those who didn't understand or believe the science of climatology rationalize?
Watch Janne Foghmar, facilitator of one of the discussion groups at the citizen meeting in Copenhagen, answer these questions and more.
Are they a bunch of quacks?
Hardly. The main organizer of the event was "The Danish Board of Technology" - a governmental organization . Furthermore, there is a comprehensive page on the methodology of the survey on the website. In short WWViews was set up as "citizens meetings with 100 participants each, held in all participating countries". The participants "selected with the aim of representing the demographic distribution in the region with regards to age, gender, occupation, education and other criteria".
The discussions were based on identical information material distributed to all participating countries and were focused on specific questions. In other words, far from the agenda of the blogosphere or newspaper opinion columns (where it sometimes appears as if everyone is just blabbering about some weird never heard of before agenda).
One could also get the idea that public debate is mainly a mudslinging contest between two sides. One being the "extremist environmentalists" who also tend to support various bleeding heart policies and are anti-progress. Some are even vegetarians who want population control. The other being the "science deniers" who are refusing to accept the state of the world because it interferes with some political ideology or an obscure conspiracy theory of theirs. Some are Creationists who are afraid of Islam. Really! It is especially from the latter group we hear the argument that people in general are less than convinced by the scientific recommendations and undecided on which course to take. And some environmentalists might be beginning to consider if democracy is up for tackling this crisis.
Now that we have access to the results of a representational survey of thousands of people why not take a look at that in stead of listening to the fringe parties!? The next time someone claims the public has no opinion, please direct that person towards WWViews or this article.
Democracy is about representing the people, right?
So, how come some politicians are a bit reluctant to represent the people? Barack Obama, you haven't enlisted for COP15 yet. Despite the fact that US WWViews participants agreed on the following recommendation statements:
"Wealthy countries must transform the industrial base and promote cultural change, using education, marketing, shared technology, transparent implementation and universal measures through global cooperation while mitigating impacts on vulnerable people."
"Implement binding, equitable commitments to 25-40% CO2 emissions reductions by 2020, emphasizing free, accessible transfer of renewable-energy technology, funded by fossil fuel taxes."
"Promptly design programs and establish a funding system, monitored by a global agency, to address climate change by developing clean emissions technology to return CO2 levels to a pre-industrial base starting by replacing coal, diesel, jet fuel and gasoline, with responsibilities reflecting each nation's resources, where results are monitored by a global agency."
"Establish an international fund from national contributions on a sliding scale, considering income and emissions, to implement a globally standardized active learning program on climate change involving public, private, and non-profit organizatins."
"Make a commitment to act urgently to engage the public on climate change by rewarding compliance and technological innovation. [Implement] cap and trade. [Set] clear, binding standards. [Tax] overconsumption."
Yes. That is the people of USA speaking. They voted for hope, Mr. Obama.
About the author
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