Views on Global Warming Vary in Three Countries

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – People in three countries hold differing views on climate change, according to a poll by Angus Reid Public Opinion. 58 per cent of respondents in Canada believe global warming is a fact and is mostly caused by emissions from vehicles and industrial facilities, but only 41 per cent of Americans and 38 per cent of Britons concur.

The term global warming refers to an increase of the Earth’s average temperature. Some theories say that climate change might be the result of human-generated carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. In 2007, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report which states that global warming has been "very likely"—or 90 per cent certain—caused by humans burning fossil fuels.

In 1998, several countries agreed to the Kyoto Protocol, a proposed amendment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The agreement commits nations to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

In October 2007, former U.S. vice-president Al Gore and the IPCC were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change."

The Copenhagen Climate Change Summit took place in December 2009. Countries attending the summit were supposed to draft a new agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which is due to expire in 2012.

The final version of the Copenhagen Accord—which is not legally binding—includes pledges by signatories to hold the increase in global temperatures below two degrees Celsius, create a fund to help poor nations adapt to climate change that will grow to $100 billion U.S. annually by 2020, and aim to reduce worldwide emissions by 50 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.

Earlier this month, U.S. president Barack Obama called for a global approach to deal with climate change, "The point we’ve tried to make is we can’t, we can’t allow China to wait. We have to take responsibility and do what needs to be done, but if emerging countries not just China but also India, Brazil and others are pursuing a path in which they replace us as the largest carbon emitters, that’s not a sustainable practical approach. So we’re going to have to have everybody moving on the same track at the same time."

Polling Data

Which of the following statements comes closest to your view of global warming (or climate change)?





Global warming is a fact and is mostly caused by emissions from vehicles and industrial facilities




Global warming is a fact and is mostly caused by natural changes




Global warming is a theory that has not yet been proven




Not sure




Source: Angus Reid Public Opinion
Methodology: Online interviews with 1,006 Canadian adults, 1,005 American adults and 2,006 British adults, conducted from Apr. 6 to Apr. 12, 2010. Margins of error range from 2.2 per cent to 3.1 per cent.

Complete Poll (PDF)