A new survey has found that the majority of the UK public (67%) were unaware that UN climate change talks were taking place in Paris this month.
Once all survey participants were made aware of the UN summit, there was also pessimism about the potential for a climate deal to be reached ― with just 19% saying they were confident a deal will be agreed, compared with 64% who said they were not confident it could be reached.
According to the poll, by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the public views the two biggest barriers to reaching a solution to climate change as the increased industrialisation of poorer countries (20%) and lack of political will (19%).
Lack of public concern about climate change also scored highly with 11% and international conflicts were cited by 10% as being the biggest barrier.
The UN COP21 summit in Paris continues to December 11. The conference objective being to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world.
The survey found that 47% of the public think developed countries, such as the UK, should face more challenging targets to cut emissions than poorer countries, compared to 25% who said we should not.
However 36% said the UK should not fund the construction of low carbon infrastructure in poorer nations compared with 30% who said we should.
Dr Jenifer Baxter, head of energy and environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: “These results from a survey just ahead of the Paris talks are troubling and the low levels of awareness illustrate how disengaged the public is with political attempts to combat climate change.
“Climate change is one of the biggest threats to humankind and is already causing droughts, flooding, political tensions and deaths around the world. These changes to the global environment could lead to mass migration leaving developed nations living in temperate zones, like the UK, to find ways to manage the health, social and basic needs of an ever increasing population.
“Leaders must show ambition to provide the political framework to make tackling climate change a priority.”
The survey of 2,067 people was commissioned by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and completed by ICM Unlimited on 26-27 November 2015.