Business, Political Elite More Alarmed By Climate Change

Environmental protection now rates second to economic growth.

Concern about climate change has risen sharply among business and political leaders who attend the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in the Swiss resort of Davos, according to a survey released Jan. 22. The World Economic Forum's annual "Voice of the Leaders" opinion poll found that participants now rate environmental protection as the second most important priority after economic growth.

Twenty percent of those polled by Gallup International rated protection of the environment as a main priority, compared to just 9% in the equivalent survey a year earlier when it was just fourth in the list. The poll was released just days ahead of the beginning on Jan. 24 of the five-day annual meeting, which has a heavy climate change component in its agenda of largely private sessions.

"What is interesting is to see how climate change is taking on more and more importance, with twice as many leaders questioned placing it as the most important issue," said Forum managing director Peter Torreele.

The leaders appear to be even more pessimistic about the future state of the world than the general public, according to the poll. Sixty-one percent thought the next generation would inherit a less secure world. By comparison, 48% of people in 60 countries felt the same way in the "Voice of the People" poll released last week, marking a sharp deterioration in the global mood over last year despite rising economic expectations.

Corporate chiefs and politicians were more upbeat about money matters, with 65% predicting that their children would live in a more prosperous world.

Membership of the Forum is only open to the world's 1,000 top companies while invitations are extended to other chosen political and economic partners.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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