Global citizens 'very concerned' about climate change: poll

PARIS (AFP) - The widest global effort yet to gauge citizens' views on climate change showed 79 per cent to be "very concerned" about its effects, but less than half support a carbon tax to curb emissions, organisers said Sunday.

Results of the day-long consultation held in 75 countries on Saturday were posted on the website of the initiative dubbed World Wide Views on Climate and Energy.

Next week, they will be put to climate negotiators meeting in Bonn, Germany ahead of a year-end United Nations conference in Paris, where nations have undertaken to sign a new world pact to curb global warming.

Responses to a multiple-choice questionnaire showed that 71 per cent of the 10,000-odd participants believe the UN negotiations process has not done enough to tackle climate change.

Nineteen per cent of people said they were "moderately concerned" about the effects of climate change, and fewer than two per cent were not at all concerned.

A large 64 per cent believes the Paris agreement should "do whatever it takes" to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius over pre-Industrial Revolution levels - the UN goal.

When it comes to practical measures to halt planet-warming carbon emissions, however, the responses are more nuanced.

Only 16 per cent support the introduction of a tax on carbon for all countries, 42 percent for all countries but with rising costs for those not reducing emissions, and 30 percent a tax linked to a country's level of development.

Nearly one in 10 was against a tax, which many green groups consider the best way to turn the tide against fossil fuels.

Forty-five per cent of respondents said the world should stop exploring for fossil fuel reserves, but nearly a quarter believed it should continue.

From Senegal to China, Madagascar, Brazil and Japan, 96 debates were held with people from a cross-section of society in 75 countries.

Organisers included the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which gathers 195 nations in negotiations for a new, global pact, and France, the host of December's Conference of Parties.

Scientists warn that on current trends, Earth is on track for double the targeted 2 C limit, or more - a recipe for catastrophic droughts, fiercer storms and other extreme weather events.

The new pact will seek to stop the trend, supported by a roster of national pledges for greenhouse gas cuts.

Sixty-nine per cent of participants in the global debate said the final deal should be legally binding on all the world's nations, and 93 per cent said countries should agree in Paris to review their commitments every five years.

"I hope that decision-makers will find this initiative an important echo chamber of citizens' concerns, hopes and aspirations for the kind of world they want for themselves and their children," Christiana Figueres, executive director of the UN's Framework Convention on Climate Change, one of the organisers of the event, said Saturday.

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