A new survey of Israeli attitudes toward climate change has found that the public is largely in favor of urgent international and domestic action to cope with the global crisis.
Most Israelis were at least a little bit aware of what climate change entailed, with only 8 percent completely oblivious and another 20% only familiar with the phrase. Among the 72% who were knowledgeable about climate change, 66% said that "although Israel is very small, it can still take steps to reduce climate change."
Seventy-three percent believed that the international community "needs to take urgent steps very soon to reduce climate change" and 74% believed that Israel should sign a treaty to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 90% by 2050.
Respondents also connected the water crisis and climate change. Some 73% of Israelis recognized that if nothing was done to address climate change in the next 20 years, water shortages would increase, the survey found.
And while climate change did not make it into the highest priorities of most of those polled, the water crisis was the top issue for 73.5%, ahead of the financial situation, Iran and swine flu.
"These results will come as a surprise to many," said researcher Lucy Michaels in a statement. "Many would expect that Israelis are not engaged with the climate change issue, but our research shows that not only are they concerned, they want to see action, with Israel playing its part in the international effort."
The research was carried out as part of a doctoral project supervised by Prof. Alon Tal of the Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research at Ben Gurion University.
According to Tal, "the research proves that the Israeli government lags behind its citizens as far as international responsibility to save the planet is concerned. The Copenhagen summit is a basic test for the Israeli government's seriousness, and we hope that we will not fail this moral test."
The survey was conducted between October 27 and November 3 among 552 respondents. The margin of error was between +/- 4% and +/- 5%.