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Climate change: Poll finds a majority think it's an emergency

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By Alice Tidey
Climate change: Poll finds a majority think it's an emergency
Copyright  REUTERS/Baz Ratner

The majority of adults questioned in an eight-country poll believe climate change to be "an emergency" and that politicians are failing to tackle the problem.

The poll's findings were released ahead of what could become the world's largest demonstration for the climate on Friday, with protesters in 150 countries expected to take part.

Read more: Climate strikes kick-off in Europe ahead of UN summit on climate change

At least three-quarters of the more than 1,000 respondents polled in each of the eight countries — Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, the UK and US — think the world is facing a "climate emergency" which could soon become "extremely dangerous".

For seven out of eight countries, the poll puts the climate crisis at the top of the issues facing the world ahead of migration, terrorism and the economy.

Two-thirds described climate change as posing a direct threat to ordinary people in their country with an average of 69% of respondents also agreeing with the statement that "time is running out to save the planet."

Only 21% thought their respective government were doing enough to tackle the issue.

A majority (58%) thought governments should move away from coal, oil and gas exploration with 80% stating that they should force big polluters to pay for the damage they cause.

Instead, clear majorities of respondents backed investment in renewable energies and jobs in clean industries as well as the installation of more charging points for electric cars.

Nick Lowles, from the Hope Not Hate group which commissioned the survey, said that "the global public is way ahead of the politicians when it comes to grasping how urgently we need to tackle the climate change."

"They understand the scale of the problem and want governments to take the strong and decisive action that this emergency requires," he added.

Watch: Climate activists interrupt Swiss parliament & break into song

More than 1,700 rallies were organised across 150 countries on Friday in a bid to urge world leaders to take bolder steps to ensure they respect the commitments laid out in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

The rallies are spearheaded by Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg whose lone school strike in late August 2018 has since transformed into a global movement.

It comes ahead of next week's United Nations Climate Change Summit in New York where world leaders will agree to new steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming.

The Paris Agreement included several five-year policy cycles — the first one of which is coming to an end in 2020. Nations were then expected to agree to tougher emissions reduction ambitions for the following two cycles.

The 2020-2030 decade is deemed particularly crucial to keep the increase in global average temperature well below 2°C from pre-industrial levels as mandated by the agreement.

The latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report estimated that global CO2 emissions would have to be cut by at least 45% during that decade in order to limit global warming to below 2°C from pre-industrial levels.

READ MORE: Worst-case scenario forecasts 7℃ hike in global temperatures by 2100