More view climate change as a threat

LONDON • Nearly nine in 10 people say they are ready to make changes to their standard of living if it would prevent future climate catastrophe, a survey on global threats has found.

The survey of over 8,000 people in eight countries - the United States, China, India, Britain, Australia, Brazil, South Africa and Germany - found that 84 per cent of people now consider climate change a "global catastrophic risk".

That puts worry about climate change only slightly behind fears about large-scale environmental damage and threat of politically motivated violence escalating into war, according to the Global Challenges Foundation, which commissioned the Global Catastrophic Risks 2017 report.

But it indicates that many now see climate change as a bigger threat than traditional or rising concerns such as epidemics, population growth, use of weapons of mass destruction and the rise of artificial intelligence threats.

On climate and environmental issues, vice-chairman Mats Andersson told the Thomson Reuters Foundation: "There's certainly a huge gap between what people expect from politicians and what politicians are doing. It's stunning."

The survey, released yesterday ahead of this week's G-7 summit in Italy, also found that 85 per cent of people think the United Nations needs reforms to be better equipped to address global threats.

About 70 per cent of those surveyed said they think it may be time to create a new global organisation - with power to enforce its decisions - specifically designed to deal with a wide range of global risks. Nearly 60 per cent said they would be prepared to have their country give up some level of sovereignty to make that happen.

"Whether it's the spectre of nuclear conflict over North Korea or the planet tipping into catastrophic climate change, the need for effective global cooperation has never been greater," Mr Andersson said.

The Global Challenges Foundation, created in 2012 by a Swedish risk specialist and philanthropist, looks for effective solutions to cross-border problems and ways to resolve the mismatch between long-term problems and short-term political and market focuses.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2017, with the headline 'More view climate change as a threat'. Print Edition | Subscribe