Climate Decision Makers Call for More Political Leadership and a Clear Policy Environment: Global Survey

01 July 2008 | International news release

A new worldwide survey of key climate decision-makers shows strong and consistent views that government leaders worldwide need to act quickly and agree on a set of clear, inclusive, and long-term policies in order to put climate solutions in place. The survey comes as countries and regions prepare for the crucial Copenhagen meeting of the UNFCCC and the G8 Summit.

“When it comes to climate change the policy waters may be muddied but the results of this survey are clear,” says IUCN Director General, Julia Marton-Lefèvre. “We need governments to get on with the job at hand, stop prevaricating and deal with the climate crisis – we have the proof governments need to be ready to set a clear agenda for action at the UN’s climate summit in Copenhagen in December.”

The survey sought the views of 1,350 professionals in position to make or influence large climate-related decisions in their governments, companies, or other organizations across 120 countries.

Asked what their organizations most need to act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the respondents most often mentioned the need for political support, policy development, and regulatory clarity.

Commenting on the survey results, GlobeScan president Doug Miller said, “The survey reveals a surprising level of global consensus on the broad outlines of an effective global response to the climate challenge, from policies to technologies. It suggests it is time for leaders to lead.”

The survey results also make clear what these professionals see as components of an effective international agreement on climate change. Asked to rate possible components of an adequate post-2012 global agreement, strong majorities give high ratings to four elements:

• The inclusion of all major carbon-emitting countries (92% of professionals)
• A commitment by wealthy countries to provide aid and technology transfer to assist developing countries to meet targets (86%)
• Legally binding targets for each signatory country (75%)
• Different types of commitments based on countries’ stages of development (77%)

After the need for policy development, respondents pointed to technology as key, particularly in seizing the many opportunities they see in the areas of energy demand management and energy efficiency. They saw the current generation of bio-fuels production from food crops as the least promising of 18 rated technologies for reducing greenhouse emissions “without unacceptable side-effects.” Current nuclear technology also received a low rating.

There was a surprisingly strong consensus on the need to protect biodiversity, not least for its carbon capturing capacity, and to address climate within a sustainable development framework.

Conducted by survey researchers at GlobeScan for the World Bank, IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), along with other supporting organizations* , this groundbreaking survey of climate decision makers and influencers across the world will be repeated every six months.
Unlike public opinion polls, this survey focuses on the views of professionals in position to make or influence large climate-related decisions. This focus, together with the survey’s large global sample and balance of respondents across all geographies and sectors, makes this survey unique.

Among other highlights from the survey:

• Biodiversity and sustainable development are preferred by experts as guiding climate frameworks
Decision makers put surprisingly high emphasis on the protection of biodiversity and having sustainable development guide climate actions, while putting relatively low emphasis on cost effectiveness.

• National governments cited for poor leadership
Experts are calling on national government ahead of global institutions or more local-level governments for the public policies and leadership that their organizations need in order to implement climate solutions. They are generally critical of the lack of leadership they have perceived thus far.

• Solution providers are uncertain whether a post-Kyoto agreement will be achieved by 2009
Respondents are neither pessimistic nor optimistic that a post-2012 global agreement will be concluded by the UN target of December 2009 needed to ensure a smooth transition. Further, nearly equal percentages of experts who completed the survey after the Conference of the Parties in Bali in December 2007 name the Bali conference as the best and worst thing that has happened related to climate change in the past year.

For more information, please contact:

Doug Miller, GlobeScan President, doug.miller@GlobeScan.com, +44 78 999 77 000, +1 416 230 2231

Brian Thomson, IUCN Communications, brian@thomson@iucn.org, Tel: +41 22 999 0251.

Detailed Results

This survey is the first of a continuing series of twice-yearly surveys of climate decision makers and influencers across the world. The survey was conducted in the six official UN languages over the Internet by GlobeScan Incorporated between November 2007 and March 2008.

Experts surveyed believe that there is currently little consensus on what are the best solutions to climate change. This ongoing research initiative is intended to help advance worldwide consensus on responses to climate change by providing a quantitative input to decision making processes in all sectors. Additional findings follow.

A broad, holistic approach to climate decision making is seen as required, within the context of sustainable development.

• Nine in ten (88%) experts strongly emphasize the importance of climate decisions to be made within the framework of sustainable development. Protection of biodiversity and agreed atmospheric CO2 concentrations are also seen as important frameworks for climate decisions and actions.

• In addition, investing in ecosystems and biodiversity protection are considered top priorities for advancing climate change solutions overall.

Importance of Selected Frameworks for Climate Decisions and Actions

 

* Including the World Energy Congress, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, The Centre (Brussels) and the COM+ Alliance of Communicators for Sustainable Development.