Green Wales

Page last updated at 07:03 GMT, Monday, 30 November 2009

Poll suggests climate concerns

By Iolo ap Dafydd
Environment Correspondent, BBC Wales

Green Wales season logo
The research marks the launch of the Green Wales season

Three quarters of people questioned in a survey believe climate change is due to human behaviour.

BBC Wales commissioned the survey on public attitudes to climate change, as part of the Green Wales season of programmes.

The results, from a sample of just over 1,000 people, show that people feel concerned - with 90% believing that the climate is changing.

The poll was commissioned ahead of the Copenhagen climate summit, which will start in Denmark on 7 December.

Some 60 world leaders from 193 countries will be debating how to set up a new United Nations international agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

This is seen to be important as more emissions pollute the atmosphere and may, according to scientists, warm the planet by more than two degrees this century.

The Kyoto agreement runs out in 2012, and the talks in Denmark principally focus on how carbon emissions will be dealt with after that, and how they will be paid for.

To understand some of the environment, energy and political debates surrounding climate change, a poll was commissioned by BBC Wales.

Many different opinion polls highlight different things, and this one sample taken in September and October, coincides with BBC Wales' Green Season.

The results seem to show some very real concerns.

When questioned about attitudes to climate change:

  • Nine in 10 (93%) believe the world's climate is changing
  • Three in four think the lead to combat climate change should come from the government
  • Three-quarters of those who took part in the poll said they believed climate change was a result of human behaviour

Dr Lorraine Whitmarsh from the University of Cardiff is about to publish some findings of her own, and commented on the BBC Wales-commissioned survey.

"I think it is slightly more positive than a lot of the messages coming out of recent research," she said.

Melting ice
Most in Wales 'think climate change is a result of human behaviour'

"It does certainly support the main findings of previous surveys, that suggest that most people believe that climate change is happening and that it's concerning - and that there is a role that individuals can play in helping to tackle climate change."

But other polls earlier this year point towards a "green fatigue" - a rise in scepticism, as people feel either bombarded with stories about climate change, do not understand it, or simply do not believe what they are being told, according to Dr Whitmarsh.

"Some of the research that we've been doing actually supports that finding," she said.

"We've done some longitudinal analysis that shows over the past few years, people are more wary about what they read in the media in terms of climate change.

"They do think there's a lot of exaggeration that goes on about climate change, and they are fed up about some alarmist images that are presented."

Although three-quarters (75%) believe the majority of recent climate change is a result of human behaviour, while over half of those (52%) believe that whatever is done by individuals will not make any difference when other countries are using fossil fuels.

Sceptical picture

The report also suggests that although three-quarters (76%) think altering their lifestyle is worthwhile, one in three (32%) think that making those changes would be too expensive.

Despite these results, other opinion polls in November paint a far more sceptical picture.

In a recent survey in the Times, it was said that only two in five people in Britain accepted that global warming was largely man made.

And 32% in this Populus survey said they agreed that it is the call for government to lead and act, which has surprised Dr Simon Jones of the University of Glamorgan.

"I think the Welsh opinion poll is interesting because of the expectation of government to act," he said.

"It says three out of every four people think that the government should take the lead in changing the law to to affect behaviour.

"That's a very interesting sort of result, where as a population we are expecting the government to act on our behalf.

"Perhaps it makes it easier then for us to buy into something like that."

• The BBC survey wanted to find out how informed people were in Wales and what they really thought about climate change.

The survey questioned attitudes to the changes which some scientists and academics still disagree on.

The survey also asks if people in Wales believe that human activity is to blame and if they are concerned about that.

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The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Times Online To combat warming 'will cost double' - 1 hr ago
The Independent Andrew Grice: Summit poses possible headache for Tory leader - 2 hrs ago
Telegraph Nigel Lawson on climate change: 'Saving' the planet will be the real disaster - 4 hrs ago Australia and climate change: The pitiless blue sky - 10 hrs ago

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