BONN, Germany (Reuters) - Almost 80 percent of people worldwide are perturbed about global warming and most want tough action to fix the problem, according to a new study that the United Nations touted as a spur to an international climate deal later this year.
The report, based on consultations with 10,000 people in 75 nations from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, also showed that 66 percent viewed measures to tackle warming, such as more wind or solar energy, as a chance to improve their quality of life.
Christiana Figueres, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, said the findings were “important proof” of public support in both rich and poor nations for a U.N. deal to limit climate change due to be agreed in Paris in December.
“Action now is necessary,” she told a news conference on Wednesday at talks among almost 200 nations in Bonn, Germany, that began on June 1 and will run until Thursday to lay groundwork for a Paris agreement to limit global warming.
She said public opinion was often overlooked by government negotiators immersed in technical details. “It brings some light into what is otherwise a very dark box,” Figueres said.
Organisers from the World Wide Views Alliance, partly funded by the French government, said the study amounted to the largest public consultation ever on climate change. It was conducted on June 6, starting in Fiji and ending in the United States.
The results showed 79 percent of people were “very concerned” by climate change, 19 percent were “moderately concerned” and two percent were unconcerned or had no opinion.
More than 90 percent wanted the upcoming Paris meeting to set some form of legally binding goal of zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2100 to help avert natural disruptions such as more downpours, heat waves and rising sea levels.
On Monday, leaders of the world’s major industrial democracies resolved to wean their energy-hungry economies off carbon fuels and set a goal of global decarbonisation by 2100.
Wednesday’s report was based on meetings of 100 people, chosen as a cross-section of society in each nation with checks to ensure that that they did not include, for instance, unrepresentative numbers of climate activists or deniers.
Citizens answered questions after discussing global warming in the consultations run by the World Wide Views Alliance.
“It is not a campaign, it is not about telling people what to think,” said Bjorn Bedsted, the group’s global coordinator.
The U.N. panel of climate scientists says it is at least 95 percent probable that most global warming since 1950 is caused by human activities, led by burning fossil fuels.
Editing by Mark Heinrich