Climate ‘Still Top Concern’ Despite Financial Crisis

LONDON ~ The environment remains a top concern despite the financial crisis, according to a global poll published this week that finds 43 percent see climate change as a bigger problem than the economy.

HSBC bank’s second annual report on environmental concerns reveals residents of a dozen countries surveyed would like to see their governments take more decisive action to fight global warming.

Three quarters of those polled – 78 percent – wanted their countries to reduce their “fair share” of greenhouse gas emissions.

A further 55 percent of people believed their government should invest in renewable energy, and 27 percent said they should take part in talks for a new international climate deal.

However, despite their appetite for government action, respondents appear less willing to change their own lives than in last year’s poll.

Forty-seven percent said they were ready to change their lifestyle, compared to 58 percent in 2007. And only 20 percent said they were prepared to spend more for the environment, compared to 28 percent a year earlier.

Nicholas Stern, author of a key climate change report published in 2006 and an advisor to HSBC, said: “This research demonstrates the need for decisive action on climate change.”

He said the “urgent challenge is to build a framework for a global deal so that consensus can be reached” at UN talks in Copenhagen next year on binding emissions cuts after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

Talks in Poznan, Poland, next month were a “critical stepping stone”.

The study commissioned by the HSBC Climate Partnership was conducted by Lightspeed, which interviewed 12,000 people between mid-September and early October.

The survey included 1,000 people in each of Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Britain and the United States.

The Climate Partnership includes HSBC, The Climate Group, Earthwatch Institute, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and WWF.

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