In advance of Copenhagen, a new survey shows that Israelis seek action against climate change.
The Israeli public is a few steps ahead of its government in wanting to see strong action on climate change, according to a new poll conducted by Ben Gurion University.
The survey was done ahead of the international Climate Summit which will convene in Copenhagen on December 7th, where a new international framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions is hoped to be created.
The survey found that among those Israelis who are aware of climate change (about three quarters of the public),
• Almost all Israelis (96%) think that the international community needs to take steps to reduce global warming, and the large majority of them (73%) believe that these measures need to be substantial and soon.
• Regarding Israel’s role, 74% of Israelis support Israel signing an international commitment to reduce CO2 emissions by 90% by 2050, and most Israelis (54%) endorse this very strongly.”
The telephone survey was conducted between 27th October and 3rd November 2009 among 552 respondents, a random representative sample of the population. Only 8% of the respondents had never heard of climate change or global warming, and 20% had only heard the expression. 72% said they knew at least a little about the topic. Among these, researchers found that 66% believed that “although Israel is very small, it can still take steps to reduce climate change.”
According to researcher Lucy Michaels, the data suggests that Israelis link climate change to the current water crisis:
• 73% of Israelis feel that if nothing is done to address climate change in the next 20 years, water shortages will increase.
• Fewer, however, registered the concern that not addressing climate change could lead to greater regional conflict (36%).
At the same time, the Israeli public describes other issues on the national agenda as being more important than climate change: thus the water situation and economy have the highest overall ranking (high importance), with the ranking of climate change as being of moderate importance is significantly below other issues (the situation with Iran and swine flu).
“These results will come as a surprise to many” said Michaels. “Many would expect that Israelis are not engaged with the climate change issue, but our research shows that not only are they concerned, but they want to see action with Israel playing its part in the international effort.”
The research was carried out as part of a doctoral project supervised by Prof. Alon Tal and Dr. Ya’akov Garb at the Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research. According to Tal, “the research proves that the Israeli government lags behind its citizens as far as international responsibility to save the planet is concerned. The Copenhagen summit is a basic test for the Israeli government’s seriousness, and we hope that we will not fail this moral test.”
This research was carried out on behalf of Ben Gurion University by TRI Strategic Research and was supported by the Heinrich Boell Foundation.
[image via lilach dan]