A survey of more than 18,500 people across 24 countries has revealed that concern over climate change is eclipsed by other environmental concerns such as energy security and waste disposal.
Global warming was voted a top priority in just four of the nations polled – South Korea, India, Japan and Mexico.
Energy security is the leading environmental issue for Britons, over and above climate change, according to the new international Ipsos poll of working age adults.
Half of Britons (50%) feel that future energy supplies and sources is one of the most important environmental issues facing the nation. Other leading issues are waste management (48%); overpopulation (41%).
Only a quarter of Britons (25%) believe climate change is their leading environmental concern.
Of the 24 nations polled across the globe, Britain is in the bottom third in terms of prioritising climate change. Lower placed nations include South Africa (23%), China (21%), Poland (19%) and Russia (9%).
In contrast the UK is in the top three nations most concerned about energy security, behind Sweden (58%) and Germany (56%).
Ipsos MORI’s Head of Environment Research, Edward Langley, said: “The public are cautious about climate change. They feel there is a lack of consensus on whether it is man-made and the degree to which it will impact their lives.
“In contrast, our dependency on fossil fuels is a more immediate and tangible risk that they can get their heads around, and one where they see an obvious need to take action to maintain living standards.”
The survey was conducted last month in 24 countries around the world via the Ipsos Online Panel system. The countries included Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States of America. The international sample included 18,675 adults. Those interviewed were aged 18-64 in the US and Canada, and 16-64 in all other countries.
According to Ipsos MORI, the survey results reveal a number of potential implications for environmental campaigners. Firstly, it is important for the public to realise that the science community is in broad agreement that man-made climate change is happening, and to link the impacts with risks the public care about, that is, economic prosperity and that of future generations.
Secondly, campaigners need to consider the degree to which energy security can be used as a hook to encourage participation in sustainable behaviours.
Looking further afield, campaigners may also consider why other nationalities are more likely to feel Climate Change is a key environmental issue. For example, Japan (48%), Canada (40%), Spain (40%) and Germany (38%) are much more likely to say climate change is a key issue for them. Are there lessons which can be learnt in terms of how the public have been engaged there?
Reposted from Clickgreen.org.uk