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Put Biodiversity At Centre Of Climate Debate

Put biodiversity at centre of climate debate, says new experts survey

A fascinating picture has emerged from a unique survey of 1,000 climate decision-makers and influencers from across 105 countries conducted by GlobeScan, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the World Bank in the two weeks leading up to the Bali Climate Conference.

Key findings include:

* High emphasis on the protection of biodiversity to help guide climate actions; relatively low emphasis on cost effectiveness.

* Bio-fuels produced from food crops like corn have the least potential of 18 technologies for reducing carbon emissions over the next 25 years.

* Decision makers expect half of their organizations' reductions of carbon emissions over the next decade to come from energy demand management or efficiency improvements and not carbon capture.

* While most decision makers rate climate change as a key factor influencing their professional activities, only 27% think a post-Kyoto agreement by 2009 is likely or very likely.

Unlike public opinion polls, the survey focuses on the views of professionals in a position to make or influence large decisions in their organizations and society. This focus, together with the survey's large global sample, spread across all regions of the world and from governments at all levels, scientific institutions, business, and civil society, makes the survey unique.

"This landmark survey brings good and bad news for climate negotiations," said Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Director General of the World Conservation Union. "It is encouraging that sustainable development and biodiversity rate highest in importance for climate action, but this is not always reflected in the climate negotiations".

IUCN Deputy Director General Bill Jackson said: "I am pleased that IUCN's Commissions were important participants in this survey because it helps to show what the world's most credible scientists are concerned about when it comes to climate change."

Some of the other top-line findings of this survey of senior officials from governments at all levels, scientists, and business and civil society leaders, include:

* More than six in 10 (63%) report that climate is one of the top three factors affecting their organizations today.

* On average, two thirds (66%) of the resources their organizations currently allocate to climate is directed at mitigation (i.e., reducing emissions) and one third (34%) to adapting to the effects of climate change. In five years they expect adaptation to increase somewhat, changing this ratio to 60-40.

* In reducing their organization's carbon emissions over the next 10 years, respondents expect half the reductions (48%) to come from energy demand management and efficiency improvements, a third (35%) to come from lower-carbon energy sources, and 18 percent from carbon capture and storage.

* Respondents look to their national government (92%) ahead of global institutions (76%) or more local-level governments (71%) for the public policies and leadership that their organizations need in order to implement climate solutions.

* When rating the potential role of 18 specific technologies "in reducing atmospheric carbon over the next 25 years without unacceptable side effects," majorities give high marks only to solar, wind and co-generation (combined heat and electricity). The lowest rating is given to so-called first generation bio-fuels from food crops.

* Asked to rate various possible components of an adequate post-2012 global agreement, strong majorities give high ratings to inclusion of all major carbon-emitting countries (92% essential or important), commitment by wealthy countries to provide aid/technology transfer to assist developing countries meet targets (84%), legally binding targets for each signatory country (77%), and different types of commitments based on countries' stage of development (76%).

* Respondents also make clear that climate actions must be taken within the framework of sustainable development (87% important), ensuring the protection of biodiversity (78%), appropriate burden sharing (75%), energy security (75%), and setting an agreed maximum carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere (74%).

* Respondents are neither pessimistic nor optimistic that a post-2012 global agreement will be concluded by the UN target of December 2009 needed to ensure a smooth transition.

About the survey

This survey is the first of a continuing series of twice-yearly surveys of climate decision makers and influencers across the world. (This first survey will continue to be fielded after Bali to fill out the number of qualified respondents and enable more detailed findings to be analyzed).

The survey was conducted in the six official UN languages over the Internet by GlobeScan Incorporated, supported by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the World Bank and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). A wide range of other organizations also helped invite members of their constituencies to complete the survey.

About the World Conservation Union (IUCN)

The World Conservation Union, also known as IUCN, is the world's oldest and largest global environmental network. IUCN is a democratic union with more than 1,000 government and NGO member organizations, and some 10,000 volunteer scientists in more than 150 countries. The Union's work is supported by 1,100 professional staff in 62 countries and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world.

The Union helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges by supporting scientific research; managing field projects all over the world; and bringing governments, NGOs, the UN, international conventions and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice.

IUCN in Bali

IUCN is playing a key role in Bali. With official UN intergovernmental status - the only environmental organization representing non government interests to have this - IUCN will be "inside" the negotiations. But IUCN is also a science-based democratic union of more than 1,000 NGOs and governments and is providing a unique unbiased perspective on a wide range of climate change issues in Bali.


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