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Published July 8, 2008 10:06 AM

Global Leaders Need to Forge Consensus and Act Now, Climate Change Experts

Government leaders need to act quickly and establish clear, consistent, inclusive and long-term climate change policies, according to a global survey of key climate change decision makers and scientists conducted by GlobeScan.

Consensus is lacking and actions taken to date to mitigate climate change by national governments and other key institutions has been inadequate, according to GlobeScan’s WAVE 1 survey, for which 1,351 climate change experts were polled in an effort to foster meaningful action and consensus among world leaders as the G8 Summit opens in Hokkaido, Japan and as the UNCCC's December 2009 15th Conference of Parties in Copenhagen approaches.

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National governments and other key institutions need to take a holistic approach to climate change decision making within the context of sustainable development, provide political support, policy development and regulatory clarity in their own countries and internationally, according to respondents.

Protecting biodiversity is viewed as a key element of effective climate change mitigation plans. Technology development and transfer — particularly when it comes to demand management, energy efficiency and conservation — are other key elements that should be addressed by nations individually and consensually, according to the survey results.

The Big Picture: Sustainable Development and Protecting Biodiversity

The climate change experts surveyed emphasize the necessity of taking a holistic approach and focusing on long-term sustainable development when crafting climate change action plans rather than focusing on more narrowly defined parameters, such as atmospheric CO2 caps, energy security and cost-effectiveness. They also emphasized the need to protect ecosystems and biodiversity.

Building political support for climate change mitigation action plans— especially at the national level — is seen as the most important requirement for effective change. Asked to rate the efforts of national governments and international organizations, the IPCC and the scientific community were lauded for their efforts. Environmental NGOs and the European Union were also given high marks while the China, India and the U.S. garnered the worst ratings for their plans and actions to date.

Respondents on the whole view eliminating subsidies that promote high-carbon activities, along with urgent action to develop public policy, as priorities for advancing climate change mitigation solutions.

“Overall, the research sends a clear message that governments must assume leadership on climate change so that other sectors can implement appropriate climate strategies and solutions,” according to GlobeScan’s WAVE 1 executive summary.

The WAVE 1 survey is the first in a planned series that aims to help guide climate change decision-making as the prescribed, end 2009 deadline for establishing a global framework for climate change mitigation post-Kyoto approaches. Conducted in partnership with a broad range of international institutions intimately involved in climate change mitigation efforts, including COM+, the IUCN, IDRC, World Bank, World Energy Council, a total of 1,351 senior government officials, business leaders, civil scientists, academics and civil leaders from more than 120 countries were surveyed.

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