Climate concern falling, survey finds


World concern about climate change has fallen in the past two years, according to an opinion poll today on the eve of 190-country talks in Copenhagen meant to agree a UN deal to fight global warming.

The Nielsen/Oxford University survey showed that 37 per cent of more than 27,000 Internet users in 54 countries said they were "very concerned" about climate change, down from 41 per cent in a similar poll two years ago.

"Global concern for climate change cools off," Nielsen said of the poll, taken in October. It linked the decline to the world economic slowdown.

In the United States, the number two emitter after China and the only industrialised nation outside the UN's existing Kyoto Protocol for curbing emissions, the number of those very concerned fell to 25 per cent from 34.

President Barack Obama wants to cut US greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, and plans to join more than 100 world leaders in Copenhagen at the end of the December 7th-18th meeting to try to reach a new UN deal.

China, the top emitter of greenhouse gases, was among few nations surveyed where the number of people very concerned rose, to 36 from 30 per cent.

The survey indicated the highest levels of concern were in Latin America and Asian-Pacific countries, topped by the Philippines on 78 per cent which was struck by Typhoon Ketsana in September. The poll did not cover most of Africa.

Those least concerned by global warming, blamed on human emissions of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, were mainly in eastern Europe. Estonia was bottom with just 10 per cent saying they were very concerned.

Worldwide, air and water pollution followed by climate change were the top three environmental concerns for the world population, the survey found.