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Last Updated: Friday, 9 November 2007, 17:01 GMT
Most ready for 'green sacrifices'
Earth from space
The poll suggests the public are more ready than politicians
Most people are ready to make personal sacrifices to address climate change, according to a BBC poll of 22,000 people in 21 countries.

Seventy per cent of people said they were prepared to change their lifestyle - even in the US and China, the world's two biggest emitters of carbon dioxide.

Opinion was split over tax rises on oil and coal - 44% against, 50% in favour.

Support would rise if the cash was used to boost efficiency and find new energy sources, the poll suggested.

Americans talk about how to address climate change

BBC environment reporter Matt McGrath says the poll suggests that in many countries people are more willing than their governments to contemplate serious changes to their lifestyles to combat global warming.

Overall, 83% of respondents throughout the world agreed that individuals would definitely or probably have to make lifestyle changes to reduce the amount of climate-changing gases they produce. Some 70% said they were ready to make personal sacrifices.

In almost all countries in Europe, and in the US, most people said they believed the cost of fuels that contribute most to climate change would have to increase.

Graphs showing how many people think lifestyles need to change, and how many people think energy costs will have to increase

The only exceptions were Italy and Russia, where significant numbers of people believed that increases in the price of energy would not be needed.

The pollsters suggested that high energy costs in both countries could have put people off the idea of increasing prices even further.

Attitudes to rising energy costs in Asia and Africa were more varied.

Large majorities in China said higher energy costs were necessary - although the BBC's Dan Griffiths, in Beijing, pointed out that people interviewed over the telephone were unlikely to contradict official policy.

In South Korea and India, the majorities in favour of higher prices were much smaller.

And in Nigeria, 52% of the respondents said they did not think higher fuel costs would be necessary to combat global warming.

Green China?

Opinions were divided on proposals to increase taxes on fossil fuels.


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Worldwide, 50% are in favour and 44% are opposed.

The Chinese are the most enthusiastic when it comes to energy taxes - 85% of those polled saying they were in favour, 24 percentage points more than in the next most-supportive countries.

In the rest of the world, narrow majorities - and sometimes minorities - favoured higher energy taxes.

However, when people opposed to energy taxes were asked whether their opinion would change if the revenue from the taxes were used to increase energy efficiency or develop cleaner fuel, large majorities in every country were in favour of higher taxes.

And when those opposed to higher taxes were asked whether they would change their minds if other taxes were reduced in order to keep their total tax burden the same, the survey again discovered large majorities in every country in favoured of higher green taxes.

"This poll clearly shows that people are much more ready to endure their share of the burden than most politicians grant," said Doug Miller, director of Globescan, the polling company that conducted the survey on behalf of the BBC.

Globescan interviewed 22,182 people in the UK, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, the Philippines, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, and the United States.

Interviews were conducted face-to-face or by telephone between 29 May 29 and 26 July 2007.

Graph showing support for lifestyle changes

Graph showing support for energy taxes broken down by country

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