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March 14, 2007

Poll Finds Worldwide Agreement That Climate Change is a Threat

Public Divided Over Whether Costly Steps Are Needed

Yerevan—An international survey found widespread agreement that climate change is a pressing problem. This majority, however, is divided over whether the problem of global warming is urgent enough to require immediate, costly measures or whether more modest efforts are sufficient. The Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) today convened a roundtable discussion tasked with presenting the first in a series of reports based on the findings of this survey. The meeting brought together members of environmental organizations, analysts, and media representatives.

In his opening remarks, ACNIS director of research Stepan Safarian underscored the need for improvements in Armenia’s foreign and domestic policies within the framework of environmental issues. “With respect to these issues, the current attitudes in Armenia are similar to those in many parts of the world. And yet official Armenian policy geared toward environmental protection is incomparable with those of developed countries,” he said. ACNIS analyst Syuzanna Barseghian then presented the survey results.

The survey was conducted by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs and WorldPublicOpinion.org, in cooperation with polling organizations around the world. It includes 17 countries—China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine, Poland, Iran, Mexico, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Argentina, Peru, Israel, Armenia—and the Palestinian territories. These represent more than 55 percent of the world population.

This is the first in a series of reports based on the findings of this survey that will analyze international attitudes on key international issues. Not all questions were asked in all countries.

Twelve countries were asked whether steps should be taken to address climate change and majorities in all but one of them favored action. The largest majority in favor of measures to combat global warming is found in Australia (92%).

China and Israel are the next most likely (83%) to favor climate change policies. In the United States—the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases—80 percent of respondents want to take steps to address the problem.

In no country does more than one in four endorse the statement, “Until we are sure that global warming is really a problem, we should not take any steps that would have economic costs.” Indian respondents are the most skeptical: 24 percent believe nothing should be done yet to address climate change. Even in India, nonetheless, nearly half (49%) favor taking some action (26% do not answer).

Ten countries were asked to evaluate how great a threat global warming poses to their country’s “vital interests” over the next ten years. Strong majorities in all ten countries polled consider climate change to be a threat, with majorities in six countries calling it “critical:” Mexico (70%), Australia (69%), South Korea (67%), Iran (61%), Israel (52%) and India (51%) and the rest calling it important.

Although there is general agreement in 12 countries that climate change is real, there are differences over how much should be spent to address it. In six countries, the most common view is that global warming is a pressing problem that needs to be addressed “even if this involves significant costs.” These include: Australia (69%), Argentina (63%), Israel (54%), the United States (43%), and Armenia (37%).

In five countries, the public tends instead to believe that climate change is gradual and can be dealt with through less expensive measures. The countries endorsing a go-slow, low-cost approach are the Philippines (49%), Thailand (41%), Poland (39%), Ukraine (37%) and India (30%).

In two countries, the public is evenly divided between those who favor less expensive measures and those who believe the problem requires action even if this involves significant cost: China (low cost 41%, significant costs 42%) and Russia (low costs 34%, significant costs 32%).

Additional findings include:

• Majorities or pluralities in five countries (Argentina, Armenia, China, India and Thailand) agree that if the developed countries are willing to provide “substantial aid,” the less-developed countries should “make a commitment to limit their greenhouse gas emissions.” This includes a large majority of Chinese respondents (79%) and nearly half of those polled in India (48% agree, 29% disagree).

• A majority in the United States agrees that less-developed countries committed to limiting carbon emissions should be given “substantial aid” by the developed world. More than six in ten Americans (64%) endorse such assistance.

• In ten of 11 countries, large majorities believe international trade agreements should require signatories to “maintain minimum standards for protecting the environment.” Those in favor include the United States (91%), Poland (90%), China (85%) and Mexico (76%).

• In all seven countries asked whether “improving the global environment” should be an important foreign policy goal, majorities say it should be considered “very important.”

For complete findings and methodology, please visit www.worldpublicopinion.org  and www.thechicagocouncil.org . For the Armenian version, visit www.acnis.am .


Founded in 1994 by Armenia’s first Minister of Foreign Affairs Raffi K. Hovannisian and supported by a global network of contributors, ACNIS serves as a link between innovative scholarship and the public policy challenges facing Armenia and the Armenian people in the post-Soviet world. It also aspires to be a catalyst for creative, strategic thinking and a wider understanding of the new global environment. In 2006, the Center focuses primarily on civic education, democratic development, conflict resolution, and applied research on critical domestic and foreign policy issues for the state and the nation.

For further information on the Center call (37410) 52-87-80 or 27-48-18; fax (37410) 52-48-46; email root@acnis.am or info@acnis.am ; or visit www.acnis.am .

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The Armenian version of the press release:

Armenian version

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