The BBC World Service have a Globescan poll of attitudes towards climate change in 23 different countries. In each country they asked how serious a problem people thought climate change was, and whether people supported action to address it “even if it hurts the economy”. I’m not a great fan of questions asking how serious a problem something is, but it’s still useful to see comparisons between countries.
Comparing the different countries surveyed, the most concerned about climate change were South American countries, the Phillipines and Turkey, where 80% or more of the public thought it was a very serious problem. The countries were the fewest thought it was a serious problem were the two African countries surveyed (Kenya and Nigeria), Pakistan and India, Russia and the USA. In all these countries less than 50% thought it was a very serious problem. In the UK 59% thought it was very serious.
The second question of whether people would support government action to combat climate change had surprisingly little correlation. The Phillipines and Turkey, two of the countries were people were most likely to view climate change as a serious problem, were also two were comparatively few people supported government intervention (only 32% and 49% respectively). The African countries Kenya and Nigeria were some of the least likely to view it as a serious problem, but had some of the highest levels of support for government action (77% and 68%).
52% of US respondents said they supported government action to fight climate change, the lowest of all was Pakistan on only 19%. 70% of UK respondents said they supported government action to fight climate change, the fourth highest. The highest of all was China with 89%, though I suspect that may be a cultural thing. In fact, I suspect a lot of the differences we see here may be down to different political traditions and viewpoints (and probably different attitudes towards answering the questions – there are vast differences in the proportions of don’t knows for example) rather than just attitudes towards climate change.
UPDATE: Note that the BBC compares the changes in the poll since 1998 when Globescan first did it. They have actually done more recent waves in 2006 and 2003 – see the results here. On average the countries that were surveyed in both 2006 and 2009 still show an increase in the perceived seriousness of climate change, but in many Western countries, including the UK, France, Germany and USA, the proportion of people saying climate change in a serious problem has fallen.
UPDATE2: There was also a climate change question in the YouGov Sunday Times poll – 21% of respondents thought that “the planet is warming and human activity is mainly responsible”, 62% thought that the planet was warming and human activity is partly responsible, but there were also other factors. 8% thought that the planet was warming, but it was nothing to do with human activity and 4% thought the planet was not warming at all.