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New Mellman Poll Shows Overwhelming Public Support for International Efforts to Halt Global Warming

Americans Expect Politicians, Business and Technology To Solve Threat

WASHINGTON, 29 September 1997 -- Most Americans believe global warming is real and represents a serious threat, according to a national poll released today by World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The poll also reveals that a clear majority of Americans want immediate action from government and the business community, and believe these solutions will not harm the economy and may actually improve it.

The survey of 800 registered voters from across the country was conducted in August. It revealed that most Americans, including two-thirds of self-professed “conservative” Republicans, want political leaders such as President Clinton to address this issue immediately by signing an international agreement to cut carbon dioxide emissions. Furthermore, they believe that corporate America already has the technological know-how to combat global warming, and most are willing to pay moderately higher prices for clean energy alternatives.

"The American public will not be swayed by a multi-million dollar industry ad campaign that uses misinformation and fear tactics to try and kill this year's international climate change negotiations," said Adam Markham, Director of WWF’s Climate Change Campaign. "The public knows that the technology and know-how are out there to solve this problem. If America leads the way, most other countries will have to play catch-up."

The poll was released along with a new WWF Report "The State of the Climate: A Time for Action," which identifies the most compelling evidence available that global warming is already underway and is not merely a distant threat. The report compiles a huge array of data from all over the world to indicate that a shift in our planet’s weather patterns and changes in climate are already underway, including droughts, melting glaciers and ice caps, dramatic ocean warming, and regional increases in extreme and violent storms. The effects on nature and human health are already being seen, including an increase in tropical diseases such as malaria and dengue fever, damage to coral reefs around the world, and reductions in species such as migratory birds and polar bears.

The key findings of the telephone poll of registered voters conducted by nationally renowned pollster Mark Mellman included:

  • 74 percent believe that global warming is an environmental problem that is either happening now (50 percent) or will happen in the future (24 percent), and two-thirds (66 percent) see it as a serious threat that is likely to get worse;
  • 72 percent support an international agreement to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent by the year 2005. Democrats (82 percent) were most supportive, followed by Republicans (68 percent), and independents (65 percent);
  • 65 percent of "conservative" Republicans favor such an international agreement;
  • Three-quarters (75 percent) believe that most scientists agree that "global warming is real and happening....the only scientists who do not are paid by big oil, coal and gas companies;"
  • 56 percent overall, and 48 percent (a plurality) of Republicans, feel the issue of global warming should be a priority for President Clinton;
  • A majority of those polled (52 percent) think the technology already exists to combat global warming, but big business is preventing it from reaching consumers, while less than one in three (29 percent) feel that developing these new technologies will cost too much money;
  • The most popular proposals to reduce global warming were those that force or highly motivate companies to offer consumers clean energy options, including higher fuel efficiency standards and cleaner engines in new cars (86 percent) and clean energy options like solar and wind power (82 percent), 80 percent said they would pay $5 more per month on their utility bills for these options.

To illustrate that solutions are available to the global warming threat, WWF also announced a new commitment from the Government of Denmark in the form of a "Gift to the Earth." The Danish Minister for the Environment, H.E. Svend Auken, announced today for the first time a plan to build 750 megawatt (MW) offshore wind turbines before 2005, with an ultimate goal of 4,000 MW offshore turbines by 2030. The electricity produced by the Danish wind turbines is not only clean, but cheap. First phase production prices from the turbines are expected to be around 5.4-5.8 cents per kilowatt hour, which is comparable in cost to energy from carbon dioxide-emitting coal-fired plants. Including land-based wind turbines, 50% of Danish electricity consumption will be borne by windmills in 2030, the most of any country.