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Survey: Biodiversity Crucial to Climate Decision Makers

NUSA DUA, Bali, Indonesia, December 11, 2007 (ENS) – The protection of Earth’s diverse forms of life is more important to climate decision makers than cost effectiveness, according to a unique new survey of 1,000 climate senior government officials and scientists, business and civil society leaders from 105 countries. The study’s findings were released Monday at the annual United Nations climate conference now underway in Bali.

Unlike public opinion polls, the survey focuses on the views of professionals in a position to make or influence large decisions in their organizations and society.

Conducted by GlobeScan, the World Conservation Union, IUCN and the World Bank in the two weeks leading up to the Bali climate conference, the survey found that while most decision makers rate climate change as a key factor influencing their professional activities, only 27 percent think a post-Kyoto agreement by 2009 is likely or very likely.
The ice that polar bears need to survive and thrive is melting away due to climate change. (Photo by Scott Schliebe courtesy USFWS)

Delegates from more than 180 nations gathered in Bali are attempting to find a way towards a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol, that would govern the emission of climate warming greenhouse gases when the protocol expires at the end of 2012.

“This landmark survey brings good and bad news for climate negotiations,” said Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Director General of the World Conservation Union. “It is encouraging that sustainable development and biodiversity rate highest in importance for climate action, but this is not always reflected in the climate negotiations.”

Asked to rate various possible components of an adequate post-2012 global agreement, strong majorities give high ratings to inclusion of all major carbon-emitting countries. Ninety-two percent said an inclusive agreement is essential or important, and 77 percent said that legally binding targets for each signatory country are essential or important.

Eight-four percent of respondents said commitment by wealthy countries to provide aid and technology transfer to help developing countries meet emissions targets is essential or important.

Bio-fuels produced from food crops like corn have the least potential of 18 technologies for reducing carbon emissions over the next 25 years, the respondents said.

When rating the potential role of 18 specific technologies “in reducing atmospheric carbon over the next 25 years without unacceptable side effects,” majorities give high marks only to solar, wind and co-generation, the term for combined heat and electricity.

Capture and storage of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide emitted by the burning of coal, oil and gas is not seen as central to the control of global warming, the survey found. In fact, the decision makers expect half of their organizations’ reductions of carbon emissions over the next decade to come from energy demand management or efficiency improvements, not carbon capture.
The Compostilla II coal-burning power plant in Leon, Spain (Photo courtesy Endesa)

More than six in 10 respondents report that climate is one of the top three factors affecting their organizations today.

On average, two thirds of the resources their organizations currently allocate to climate is directed at reducing emissions and one third to adapting to the effects of climate change. In five years they expect adaptation to increase somewhat, changing this ratio to 60-40.

The respondents hold their national governments responsible for acting to limit global warming. Ninety-two percent look to their national governments for the public policies and leadership that their organizations need in order to implement climate solutions.

The decision makers look to more than one level of society for climate solutions. Seventy-six percent of respondents look to global institutions, while 71 percent look to local level governments for climate change policies.

This 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, supported by the IUCN, the World Bank and the International Development Research Centre .A wide range of other organizations also helped invite members of their constituencies to complete the survey.

This first survey will continue to be open after the Bali conference ends on Friday to increase the number of qualified respondents and enable analysis of more detailed findings.

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