The 15th Conference of the Parties, beginning next week in Copenhagen, aims to reach an agreement on global greenhouse gas emissions to succeed the Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2012. As many greenhouse gas emissions and most health-hazardous pollutants have urban origins, the success or failure of the Copenhagen conference will have consequences for both the rate of climate change and pollution impacts in cities.
Participating political leaders, representing citizens in dozens of countries, need to appreciate the opinions and preferences of their constituents. A poll conducted by Harris-Decima for a debate in Toronto surveyed public opinions from Canada and six developed countries and reached some interesting conclusions, some of which are quoted below.
“..collected data from 6 countries, including: U.S., France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, and Spain, resulting in a sample size of over 6,000 adults.”
“Part one of the study compares and contrasts Canadians’ views on climate change with the citizens of seven other advanced demoracies. It also looks at Canadians’ views about United Nations Summit on climate change taking place in Copenhagen from December 7 to18, 2009.”
“How big a threat does climate change pose to the world? Ninety‐five percent of adults across the five largest countries in Europe, 89% of American adults, and 93% of Canadian adults see climate change as at least some threat to the world”
“How much of a priority should signing a new treaty be at the climate change conference in Copenhagen? Europeans feel the most strongly about this (75% saying ‘top’ or ‘one of the top’), followed by Canadians (62%) and Americans (53%)”
“The US should make the most emissions cuts. Canadians are split between agreeing (42%) and not having an opinion (42%). In Britain it is just over half agree with this assertion, whereas in the US 2 in 5 are neutral and 1 in 3 disagree with it”
“Do you believe [your country] needs to reduce the amount of oil and natural gas that it imports from foreign energy sources? Americans agree with this most strongly (83%), followed by Canadians (65%), and then Europeans (57%).”
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