China / Society

Chinese public more familiar with climate change

(Xinhua) Updated: 2012-11-01 23:57
BEIJING - A survey released on Thursday shows that a majority of Chinese people are familiar with issues related to climate change and they believe it has been caused by human activities and inflicts suffering on the country, but especially farmers.

The survey, conducted by the Center for China Climate Change Communication (CCCCC), randomly selected and polled more than 4,000 mainland residents aged between 18 and 70 from July to September. The survey was conducted ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which will be held from Nov. 26 to Dec. 7 in Doha, Qatar.

About 93 percent of respondents agree that climate change has already taken its toll. The figure stands at 62 percent in the United States, according to similar surveys conducted by Yale University, and at 75 percent in Britain, based on a survey carried out by the BBC two years ago.

The CCCCC survey shows that 77.7 percent of respondents worry about the impact of climate change and are willing to pay more money to purchase environmentally-friendly products, with male respondents being more likely to worry and change their spending habits than female respondents.

However, only 34 percent of respondents spends time sorting garbage in China, the survey shows.

Television is the major channel for the public to receive climate change information, followed by cell phones and the Internet, it says.

Farmers know more about climate change than urbanites, according to the survey, and nearly 48 percent of those surveyed believe that rural residents suffer more from climate change.

China's 674 million rural residents, especially those living in absolute poverty, are susceptible to natural disasters.

A farmer in northwest China's Gansu Province once said, "A decade ago, rainfalls were regular, but now the climate is unpredictable and we feel it is hard to live."

Feng Yulin, head of Xiahu Village, Chicheng County, located adjacent to Beijing, remembers a time when the hills around his village teemed with green grass and vegetation, a time when water could be easily found in the soil near his home. These days, many of the hills surrounding the village of Xiahu in north China's Hebei Province are almost completely bare and even the deepest wells have dried up. Overgrazing is part of the reason.

"Dealing with climate change requires public participation," said Xie Zhenhua, deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country's economic planner, in the preface to a report based on the CCCCC survey.

The report will serve as a reference tool for the government, public institutions and researchers in making policies and decisions, Xie said.

China's per capita resources are deficient, its ecological environment vulnerable and natural disasters frequent.

China sticks to "the common but differentiated responsibilities" theory in international climate talks, as the country's per capita and historical emissions of greenhouse gases are far below those of developed nations, although rapid economic development and its population base has made China a big producer of greenhouse gases at present.

Such a situation adds great pressure on China in international talks, which was apparent at the Copenhagen climate change meeting in December 2009.

"Excessive attention to technical differences in climate talks will lead to public ignorance of the real issues of combating climate change, which are mitigation, adaptation and global cooperation," said Sun Zhen, a senior official of the NDRC's climate change department.

China has integrated combatting climate change into its national strategies for the transformation of its economic growth mode and economic restructuring. The 12th Five-year Plan (2011-2015) shows the emphasis on green and low-carbon development.

Hot Topics