Skip to content

Britons Question Global Warming More Than Americans And Canadians

Britain has become the main source of skepticism, with the lowest proportion of believers in man-made global warming, and with a third of Britons acknowledging that they would foster economic growth even at the risk of damaging the environment.

Half of respondents in the two North American countries think climate change is a fact and is caused by emissions—fewer Britons concur.

While Canadians continue to be more likely than Americans and Britons to blame global warming on man-made emissions, they are not as unwavering about it as they were last year, a new three-country Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found.

The online survey of representative national samples also shows that belief in man-made climate change has reached the highest level in the United States since 2009, and has fallen considerably in Britain.

Overall, half of Canadians (52%, -8 since October) and Americans (49%, +7) say that that global warming is a fact and is mostly caused by emissions from vehicles and industrial facilities. Only 43 per cent of Britons (-4) agree with this assessment.

In the United States, one-in-five respondents (20%, -5) think that global warming is a theory that has not yet been proven, along with 20 per cent of Britons (+2) and 14 per cent of Canadians (=).

More than half of Canadians (55%, -6) believe it is more important to protect the environment, even at the risk of hampering economic growth, while 22 per cent (+4) would prefer to foster economic growth, even at the risk of damaging the environment.

In the United States, 47 per cent of respondents (+2) would emphasize protecting the environment, while 26 per cent (-4) would foster economic growth. The biggest change since last year comes in Britain, where only 40 per cent of respondents would protect the environment (-11) and 33 per cent would prefer to foster economic growth (+11).

Analysis

Since 2009, Angus Reid Public Opinion has conducted five three-country surveys on global warming. The latest poll outlines one of the lowest proportions of believers in man-made climate change ever recorded in Canada (52%). Still, Canadians are more likely than Americans or Britons to both believe in emissions as the primary source of global warming and to choose environmental protection over economic growth.

In the United States, despite the economic crisis, belief in man-made global warming has reached the high level that was observed before the so-called “climate-gate” controversy. In addition, the proportion of Americans who brand climate change as an unproven theory fell by five points, the biggest fluctuation observed in the past three years.

Britain has become the main source of skepticism, with the lowest proportion of believers in man-made global warming, and with a third of Britons acknowledging that they would foster economic growth even at the risk of damaging the environment—the largest proportion observed in all three countries.

Angus Reid Public Opinion, 12 September 2011