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Asians Want Strong Climate Deal & Obama to Lead

A new survey of Asians finds that they want a strong international climate agreement, and they want a few key world leaders to step up to the plate to make it happen.

World Leaders to Lead on Climate

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According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Asians believe, by far, that Obama is the most important person leading the way into upcoming international climate negotiations. Findings from a poll conducted by Synovate show that “53% of Asians believe an agreement at the Copenhagen Climate Summit in December depends on leadership by the US President, followed by Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (15%) and India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (14%).”

Survey respondents also want their leaders to lead, however. Residents of China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand want green, cool action from their leaders at upcoming UN and G20 meetings (in New York and Pittsburgh) this month, and in Copenhagen in December. 79% of survey respondents said: “Regardless of what other countries do and their historical responsibility, I want my government to take action and show leadership to reduce the risk from climate change for my country.”

Asians think that success on the climate issue comes down to three countries — the US, China, and India. Kim Carstensen, Leader of WWF’s Global Climate Initiative, says: “If the US, China and India live up to the huge leadership potential Asians see in them, Copenhagen can deliver a global deal that protects the world from runaway climate change, especially poor and vulnerable nations like those in Asia.”

Who’s Most Difficult to Get On Board?

The countries with the greatest opportunity to lead are also those who will be most difficult to get into an agreement, the respondents thought. The most challenging countries are thought to be China (according to 43% of respondents), the US (38%), India (33%), Japan (25%), Russia (24%), South Africa (20%), Brazil (18%), the UK (17%), Germany (16%), Mexico (15%), France (14%), and Canada (10%).

Developed or Developing Countries — Who’s More Resonsible?

The respondents thought both developed and developing nations needed to take responsibility, but considered developed nations slightly more responsible. 73% of respondents thought developed nations needed to lead the way, whereas 68% believed that major developing nations needed to join the effort.

Rich countries are responsible “because they are historically responsible for most greenhouse gas emissions and at the same time most capable of reducing them” and poor countries are responsible “because their rapidly increasing emissions are adding more to the current state of pollution and they must switch from a dirty to a clean development model.”

Dangers of Climate Change

The respondents from Asia think that the most dangerous climate change problems are water shortages (32%), worsening health conditions (31%), plant and animal extinction (20%), and food shortages (17%). As the WWF says, this is a “clear reflection of the impacts hitting vulnerable developing countries in Asia already.” Some of these countries are at a very high risk of climate change problems, according to another new report by global risk consultant Maplecroft.

Stopping Climate Change

The most important things, according to Asians, to slow or stop global climate change are stop deforestation (39%) and green our energy (28%). Additionally, changing our lifestyle and consumption patterns (17%) and making agriculture more environmentally friendly (16%) are considered important steps to a cooler world.

Asia has sent a clear message — it wants a strong climate deal and the US to lead.

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For more on international negotiations regarding climate change, read:

1) United Nations (UN) Shames Rich Nations for Climate Change Funding — Needs to Be About $500-600 Billion Higher

2) The US is Driving Other National Positions Leading into Copenhagen

3) Future of Global Cooperation on Climate Change: From the US to India and Back

Image Credit 1: Prabhu B via flickr under a Creative Commons license

Image Credit 2: IRRI Images via flickr under a Creative Commons license

 
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