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Climate change scepticism growing in the US -

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Climate change scepticism growing in the US

Broadcast: 09/12/2009

Reporter: North America correspondent Lisa Millar

While research may back a warming trend, opinion polls in the United States show that a growing
percentage of people there are not quite convinced.

Transcript

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: While research may back a warming trend, opinion polls in the United States
show that a growing percentage of people there aren't quite convinced. The polls say while
Americans generally favour legislation on climate change, many either doubt it even exists or don't
believe it's caused by human activity.

That may prove problematic for the US President, who's facing immense international pressure to
play a leading role in Copenhagen.

More from our North America correspondent Lisa Millar.

LISA MILLAR, REPORTER: America is responsible for one quarter of the world's carbon emissions, but
Americans are less convinced that's a problem. The most recent opinion poll found 57 per cent
thought there was solid evidence of global warming.

CARROLL DOHERTY, PEW RESEARCH CENTRE: That's down from 71 per cent last year - significant drop in
a very short period of time.

LISA MILLAR: And on a list of 20 issues considered most concerning, global warming came in last.

DAVID FREESTONE, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: That's quite difficult concept for the man in the
street, I think, who gets a lot of mixed messages, to take. So I'm not surprised that it's - I'm
disappointed, but I'm not surprised.

LISA MILLAR: With unemployment sitting at 10 per cent, Americans are more worried about the
economy.

CARROLL DOHERTY: Well, if we can't afford to take on the solutions, then maybe there's - they're
becoming a little bit more sceptical about whether the problem really exists.

LISA MILLAR: Those opinion polls are part of the reason the President is careful to emphasise the
jobs that would be created in a greener America and the benefits that would flow to a country still
struggling to free itself from the grips of a recession.

He sprinkles his speeches with the promise of what might lie ahead.

BARACK OBAMA, US PRESIDENT: The nation that leads in clean energy will be the nation that leads the
world. I want America to be that nation.

LISA MILLAR: But the US Senate is still debating his goals of reducing emissions by 17 per cent
from 2005 levels by 2020. With the public mood souring, the President faces intricate negotiations
in Copenhagen.

DAVID FREESTONE: The leadership of the United Nations as a developed country with the sort of
resources is absolutely crucial to the success of reaching a settlement I think in Copenhagen by
the end of next week.

LISA MILLAR: But finding consensus back in the US could prove even tougher.

Lisa Millar, Lateline.