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Climate Change Seen as Top Global Threat

Summary & Comment: A new Pew survey shows anxiety about Climate Change High in Latin America, Africa. Publics in 19 of 40 nations surveyed cite climate change as their biggest worry, making it the most widespread concern of any issue included in the survey. see %s of concern over the top 5 issues. It is appropriate that those who are most vulnerable should be most concerned. In the West, civil society leads the campaign to get governments and big polluters to commit us to reducing carbon emissions especially from burning fossil fuels. JK

Author: Jill Carle via Climate Justice Now south africa. Date Written: 14 July 2015
Primary Category: Ecology Document Origin: Pew Research Centre via CJN!sa.
Secondary Category: Africa General Source URL: http://https://groups.google.com
Key Words: Climate Change, carbon, fossil fuels, UN, Paris

African Charter Article #24: All peoples shall have the right to a general satisfactory environment favorable to their development. (Click for full text...)



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The last such poll by Pew was two years ago - see small type below - and the global trend was very similar though without the ISIS factor. But the in-country rankings have shifted with some strange results. The most climate-ignorant countries remain Poland, Israel and China - and likewise the US public considers climate change only 6th of 7 main concerns - but in contrast, on the better-educated end of the spectrum, "Publics in 19 of 40 nations surveyed cite climate change as their biggest worry, making it the most widespread concern of any issue included in the survey. A median of 61% of Latin Americans say they are very concerned about climate change, the highest share of any region. And more than half in every Latin American nation surveyed report substantial concerns about climate change. In Peru and Brazil, where years of declining deforestation rates have slowly started to climb, fully three-quarters express anxiety about climate change. Sub-Saharan Africans also voice substantial concerns about climate change. A median of 59% say they are very concerned, including about half or more in all countries surveyed. Climate change is particularly worrying in Burkina Faso (79%), Uganda (74%) and Ghana (71%), while South Africans (47%) and Tanzanians (49%) are the least concerned.")

July 14, 2015

In advance of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris this December, many publics around the world name global climate change as a top threat, according to a new Pew Research Center survey measuring perceptions of international challenges. This is particularly true in Latin America and Africa, where majorities in most countries say they are very concerned about this issue. But as the Islamic militant group ISIS maintains its hold in Iraq and Syria and intensifies its grisly public executions, Europeans and Middle Easterners most frequently cite ISIS as their main concern among international issues.

Global economic instability also figures prominently as the top concern in a number of countries, and it is the second biggest concern in half of the countries surveyed. In contrast, concerns about Iranís nuclear program as well as cyberattacks on governments, banks or corporations are limited to a few nations. Israelis and Americans are among the most concerned about Iranís nuclear program, while South Koreans and Americans have the greatest concern about cyberattacks relative to other publics. And apprehension about tensions between Russia and its neighbors, or territorial disputes between China and surrounding countries, largely remain regional concerns.

These are among the findings of a new Pew Research Center survey, conducted in 40 countries among 45,435 respondents from March 25 to May 27, 2015. The report focuses on those who say they are ďvery concernedĒ about each issue.1

Across the nations surveyed, the level of concern about different international issues varies considerably by region and country, and in some places multiple issues vie for the top spot.

Citizens are very concerned about ...

CountryGlobal climate changeGlobal economic instabilityISISIran's nuclear programCyber-attacksTensions with RussiaTerritorial disputes with China
U.S.42%51%68%62%59%43%30%
Canada45%32%58%43%39%35%19%
France48%49%71%43%47%41%16%
Germany34%26%70%39%39%40%17%
Italy45%48%69%44%25%27%17%
Poland14%26%29%26%22%44%11%
Spain59%63%77%52%35%39%20%
U.K.38%32%66%41%34%41%16%
Russia22%43%18%15%14%*8%
Ukraine20%35%9%11%4%62%4%
Turkey35%33%33%22%22%19%14%
Jordan36%39%62%29%26%18%16%
Lebanon44%39%84%30%17%18%16%
Palest. ter.33%32%54%17%24%12%10%
Israel14%28%44%53%18%6%3%
Australia37%32%69%38%37%31%17%
China19%16%9%8%12%9%*
India73%49%41%28%45%30%38%
Indonesia42%41%65%29%22%15%11%
Japan42%30%72%39%39%32%52%
Malaysia37%37%21%11%20%9%12%
Pakistan25%6%14%9%14%7%18%
Philippines72%52%49%47%49%38%56%
South Korea40%31%75%41%55%24%31%
Vietnam58%37%30%22%32%19%60%
Argentina57%49%34%31%28%22%18%
Brazil75%60%46%49%47%33%28%
Chile62%39%31%31%22%15%15%
Mexico54%46%23%28%30%16%14%
Peru75%58%35%42%35%26%27%
Venezuela60%60%28%35%38%22%24%
Burkina Faso79%50%41%28%25%17%15%
Ethiopia59%50%38%23%28%20%20%
Ghana71%67%46%34%42%30%29%
Kenya58%44%35%29%35%19%20%
Nigeria65%48%36%24%29%25%24%
Senegal51%59%35%33%37%20%16%
South Africa47%33%26%25%28%18%22%
Tanzania49%56%51%37%46%30%26%
Uganda74%62%39%33%30%24%23%

* Question not asked in country.

Note: Question asked about global climate change, global economic instability, the Islamic militant group in Iraq and Syria known as ISIS, Iran's nuclear program, cyberattacks on governments, banks or corporations, tensions between Russia and neighboring countries, and territorial disputes between China and neighboring countries.

Source: Spring 2015 Global Attitudes survey. Q13a-g.


Publics in 19 of 40 nations surveyed cite climate change as their biggest worry, making it the most widespread concern of any issue included in the survey. A median of 61% of Latin Americans say they are very concerned about climate change, the highest share of any region. And more than half in every Latin American nation surveyed report substantial concerns about climate change. In Peru and Brazil, where years of declining deforestation rates have slowly started to climb, fully three-quarters express anxiety about climate change.

Sub-Saharan Africans also voice substantial concerns about climate change. A median of 59% say they are very concerned, including about half or more in all countries surveyed. Climate change is particularly worrying in Burkina Faso (79%), Uganda (74%) and Ghana (71%), while South Africans (47%) and Tanzanians (49%) are the least concerned.

Both regions are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, as is Asia, where a median of 41% voice great concern about the issue. Indians (73%) and Filipinos (72%) are particularly worried, but climate change captures the top spot in half of the Asian countries surveyed.

Concern about climate change is relatively low in Europe. While a median of 42% report being very concerned, global climate change is not one of the top two threats in any European country surveyed. Anxiety about this issue is highest in Spain (59%), but just 14% in Poland say the same. In a number of European nations, concern about climate change is more pronounced for those on the left of the political spectrum. Ideological differences are particularly large in the United Kingdom, where about half of those on the left (49%) express serious concerns, compared with 30% of those on the right. Those to the left of the political center are also considerably more concerned about global climate change in Italy, France and Spain.

Global climate change ranks substantially lower as a comparative global threat for Americans, with 42% saying they are very concerned about the issue. The only global issue that is even less worrying to Americans: territorial disputes between China and its neighbors (30%). Much like in Europe, perceptions in the U.S. about the threat of climate change depend on ideology. About six-in-ten Democrats (62%) are very concerned about climate change, while just 20% of Republicans say the same

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Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s) and not do necessarily reflect the views of the AfricaFiles' editors and network members. They are included in our material as a reflection of a diversity of views and a variety of issues. Material written specifically for AfricaFiles may be edited for length, clarity or inaccuracies.

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