New Survey Finds US and 37 Other Countries Demand More Aggressive Climate Change Action than Congress or Copenhagen Envision

Thu Oct 22, 2009 3:40pm EDT

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New Survey Finds US and 37 Other Countries Demand More Aggressive Climate
Change Action than Congress or Copenhagen Envision

BOSTON, Oct. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The first-ever deliberative global
survey of citizen opinion, World Wide Views on Global Warming (WWViews) has
found that people from diverse backgrounds in the US and worldwide
overwhelmingly want faster action, deeper GHG emissions cuts and stronger
enforcement than either US climate legislation proposals or Copenhagen treaty
conference preparations are currently contemplating. Among the survey's
findings:
    --  90% of U. S. participants say it is urgent to reach a tough, new
        agreement at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in
December
        and not punt to subsequent meetings;
    --  89% said by 2020 emissions should be cut 25-40% below 1990 levels (the
        Kerry Boxer Senate bill would cut US emissions 20% below 2005 levels);
    --  71% want nations that fail to meet their obligations under a new
        agreement to be penalized severely or significantly;

    --  69% believe the price of fossil fuels should be increased.





These views were echoed across 37 other countries on six continents. Global
results showed participants wanted more aggressive action than their delegates
to Copenhagen envision, including:
    --  strict targets for keeping global warming within 2 degrees Celsius
(half
        of participants, especially in countries hardest hit by climate
change,
        want measures to hold temperatures at the current level or even bring
        them down to pre-industrial levels);
    --  fairer and more proportionate burden sharing, including 2020 emissions
        reduction targets for fast- growing economies like India, China and
        Brazil, and low-income developing countries;
    --  sanctions against countries that do not live up to their emission
        reduction commitments;

    --  strong new international financial mechanisms and institutions to
        support these goals.





By contrast, in current policy negotiations these goals are either much less
ambitious or absent altogether. Preparations for Copenhagen and Congressional
debate on climate change legislation are both following a similar pattern of
lowering ambitions and expectations, focusing on limited areas of current
agreement and incremental steps, and deferring more contentious issues of
targets, timetables, funding and enforcement until later.


"We are hearing from climate policymakers that it will take more time to do
things right, that we have to meet people where they are instead of imposing
radical reforms from above," said Dr. Richard Sclove, the US advisor to
WWViews. "But these results show the people are way ahead of the policymakers.
If Congress and Copenhagen delegates want to act in accordance with citizen
views, they have to do far more and go far faster, not scale back and slow
down."


WWViews gathered its data from daylong citizen deliberations in Atlanta,
Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, and Phoenix, as well as in cities throughout
Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and Latin America. It showed citizens of all
38 countries, even low-income ones, are willing to take responsibility for
lowering emissions, and to pay to do so. Of the 38 countries, China's citizens
were least inclined to introduce 2020 targets for fast-growing economies, yet
even so, 45% support it and 52% support limiting emissions growth.


"Our deliberative method yielded very different results from polls, which
purport to show much more diffident attitudes to climate change, and even some
skepticism about it. But I'd argue our data is much more accurate " said Dr.
Richard Worthington, WWViews U.S. coordinator. "For one thing, for a dozen
countries [the Maldives, Saint Lucia, Uruguay, Norway, Switzerland, Cameroon,
Ethiopia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Uganda and Vietnam], our data is the only
data, because we worked in places so far excluded from international polling
on climate change. For another, we elicited citizen opinion through informed,
daylong deliberations, not through knee-jerk answers to carefully
circumscribed questions."


WWViews is the first ever-global "citizen consultation," using a citizen
deliberation methodology distinct from ordinary quantitative surveying or
polling. Polls on climate change ask a random sampling of respondents one or
two general questions about one's prior opinion on climate change and what
one's national government should do. WWViews gathered people with diverse
backgrounds and views, excluding climate change experts and those representing
institutions with vested interests in climate policy. It gave participants
balanced expert information in advance, based on the UN Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change's Fourth Assessment Report, then allowed them a day of
deliberation together, after which they voted on what delegates assembling
from around the world in Copenhagen should do.


WWViews was initiated and coordinated by the Danish Board of Technology, the
Danish Parliament's office of technology assessment (www.tekno.dk), working
with partners worldwide. US partners included Arizona State University's
Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes; Colorado School of Mines; the
Boston Museum of Science; Boston University; the Brookfield Institute; Georgia
Institute of Technology; the Loka Institute; and Pomona College. 
www.wwviews.org




SOURCE  World Wide Views on Global Warming

Stephen Kent, KentCom LLC, skent@kentcom.com, +1-914-589-5988, for World Wide
Views on Global Warming
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