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Recognition of climate change holds strong in U.K. despite economic woes

Published: Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Despite the eurozone crisis and the lingering global recession, the number of British voters who consider man-made global warming a serious problem is slightly higher this year than it was three years ago, according to a new Guardian/ICM poll.

The survey, conducted in the final days of the Rio+20 U.N. sustainable development conference last week, found that 57 percent of British voters think climate change is exacerbated by human action and is happening right now.

That's a slightly higher margin than the 56 percent who shared that view when ICM posed the same question in 2009, in the run-up to the Copenhagen, Denmark, climate conference that year.

Only 7 percent of respondents deny that the planet is getting warmer, which is 2 points higher than in 2009. These trends suggest that the United Kingdom, like the United States, is becoming more polarized on the issue.

These trends seem somewhat at odds with patterns in the political sphere, where environmental ambitions have been tempered toward an "economy first" approach.

In the months leading up to the Rio de Janeiro summit, Prime Minister David Cameron permitted his chancellor to say, "We're not going to save the planet by putting our country out of business."

One thing that may help explain this shifting political positioning is a sense that -- among the majority of voters who do acknowledge a climate change problem -- the subject has slipped down the list of priorities.

After three years of tepid economic growth and periodic slumps, more of the people who accept that carbon emissions need curbing warn leaders not to "lose sight of the need to maintain human prosperity."

The number taking this view has edged up from 45 percent to 50 percent in the most recent incarnation of the survey (Tom Clark,  London Guardian, June 25). -- NM

Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. 202-628-6500


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Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. 202-628-6500.

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