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News    >    1 February 2007

Global Warming: A self-inflicted, very serious problem, according to more than half the world's online population

Nine in 10 Hong Kong people are aware of global warming yet not a major concern for many

1 February 2007
Hong Kong

Unprecedented warm winters, prolonged summers, rainstorms at an unexpected time of the year… climate change is drawing global attention like never before, with nine in 10 of the world’s online population aware of the issue, according to the latest global online survey conducted by ACNielsen, the world’s leading market research and information provider. In Hong Kong, 92 percent of people surveyed are aware of the issue but only 55 percent think it is a very serious problem, less than the global average.

The ACNielsen Online Consumer Opinion Survey, the largest half-yearly survey of its kind, was conducted in late October/early November, surveying 25,408 internet users in 46 markets from Europe, Asia Pacific, North America, the Baltics and Middle East.

“It has taken extreme and life threatening weather patterns to finally drive the message home that global warming is happening and unless a concerted, global effort is made to reverse it,” said Ms Fanny Chan, Managing Director, ACNielsen Hong Kong. “The 2004 Kyoto Protocol made some tentative steps towards controlling the “greenhouse gasses” which are thought to contribute to global warming but what’s worrying is that while there is a high level of awareness among consumers, the level of concern towards the issue is quite low.”

Heard of global warming?
Across the world, Latin Americans are the most likely to have heard of global warming (96%) and North Americans are the least likely (84%), but awareness is high in all continents, with a global average of 91 percent and Hong Kong at 92 percent. (Chart 1)

Leading the world in awareness of global warming is the Czech Republic, where 99 percent of on-line users said that they had heard or read something about the issue. Closely following, on 98%, were China, Portugal, Russia and Thailand.

“These high awareness levels reflect the increasing media coverage of global warming particularly when consumers have actually experienced the El Nino effect which contributes to unexpected rainfalls, prolonged summers and long winters etc. in the past years,“ said Ms Chan.

In Asia Pacific, consumers in China (98%), Thailand (98%) and Korea (96%) are most aware of global warming.

The three lowest countries in terms of awareness were the UAE, where 16 percent of respondents said that they had not heard of global warming, followed by the US (13%) and Malaysia (11%). (Chart 2)

Is global warming a serious issue?
Worldwide 57 percent of respondents feel that global warming is a very serious problem, with a further 34 percent who see it as “fairly serious”.

People in Latin America are aware of the phenomenon so much so that the region leads the world in seeing global warming as a very serious problem (75%). While in North America, in line with the relatively low awareness, consumers are less likely than those in other areas to see global warming as a serious problem (43%). Indeed, small but significant minorities in the US do not feel that global warming is a problem at all.

Leading the world in seeing global warming as a very serious problem are Brazil (81%), France (80%), Portugal (78%), and the Philippines (76%). In Hong Kong, 55 percent of people consider it a very serious problem, among the lowest in the Asia Pacific region where on-line consumers are more divided as to the seriousness of the problem. (Chart 3)

Across the Asia Pacific region, 62 percent see global warming as a very serious problem led by The Philippines (76%) and Thailand (73%)

High level of awareness, low level of concern
Despite high awareness among global consumers and the majority considering it a serious problem, global warming is not considered a major personal concern in short term.

Globally, only seven percent of consumers, or six percent in Asia Pacific, considered global warming a major concern for them in the next six months, with the level of concern as low as two percent in some markets. In line with global or regional average, only six percent of Hong Kong people consider global warming a major concern for them in the next six months.

“It’s worrying to see the low levels of concern among people surveyed which means the issue remains something too far off for them,” Ms Chan warns. “Indeed, global warming is increasingly more than just an environmental issue, as businesses become increasingly exposed to risks and potential disruptions due to climate change,”

What’s causing global warming?
Across the world there is a strong consensus that human activities like vehicle emissions and the burning of fossil fuels contribute to global warming. Worldwide, 50 percent of respondents cite human activities alone as a contributing factor, and another 43 percent mention both human activities and natural climate changes together as a combined factor. (Chart 4)

“It is very clear that respondents link global warming with traffic and the burning of fossil fuels, “said Ms Chan. “A significant proportion also mentions natural climate change, but very few consumers see it as a natural phenomenon only.”

Across Asia Pacific, over half of the online population surveyed attributes global warming to human activities like driving cars and burning fuel.

China (73%), Korea (63%) and Hong Kong (59%) are most likely to see global warming as caused by human activities while nearly 60 percent in Vietnam attribute it to both human activities and natural change in climate! (Chart 5)

Again, Latin America leads the way in feeling that human activities alone are the cause of global warming (62%). And North America is less likely than other continents to see human activities alone as the main cause (32%).

“Hopefully those who believe global warming a result of human actions are more likely to make changes to save the environment.”

About ACNielsen

ACNielsen, a division of the Nielsen Company, is the world's leading marketing information provider. Offering services in more than 100 countries, the unit provides measurement and analysis of marketplace dynamics and consumer attitudes and behavior. Clients rely on ACNielsen's market research, proprietary products, analytical tools and professional service to understand competitive performance, to uncover new opportunities and to raise the profitability of their marketing and sales campaigns. To learn more, visit www.acnielsen.com.

About The Nielsen Company

The Nielsen Company is a global information and media company with leading market positions and recognized brands in marketing information (ACNielsen), media information (Nielsen Media Research), business publications (Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, Adweek) and trade shows. The privately held company has more than 42,000 employees and is active in more than 100 countries, with headquarters in Haarlem, the Netherlands, and New York, USA.

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