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Study: emerging economies more eager to act on global warming

indiaWe’ve all heard plenty about how people in developing countries are eager to catch up to the developed-nation lifestyle: fast food, cars, mobile phones, big-screen TVs, etc. But a new study by the consulting giant Accenture finds an intriguing difference between the populations: citizens of developing economies are apparently more concerned about global warming, and more willing to take action against it.

And that raises the possibility that emerging markets could siphon off climate-change investments that would otherwise be made in the US, EU and other mature markets, Accenture says.

“Governments in North America and Europe cannot assume their countries will lead climate change solutions or policy,” said Sander van’t Noordende, group chief executive of Accenture’s Resources operating group. “Low-carbon investments will be drawn to the most concerned and active consumers and to those economies that can leapfrog to new technologies and implement cutting edge policies. There is a small window of opportunity for western governments to act before a global climate change policy agreement gives emerging economies the incentive (to) draw investment away from developed markets.”

According to Accenture’s research, climate change raises extreme concerns among 53 percent of people in the emerging-economy nations of Brazil, Russia, India, China, Argentina, Chile and South Africa. In North America, Western Europe, Japan and Australia, only 31 percent expressed such worries.

At the same time, however, more citizens in developing countries — 70 percent — are optimistic about the possibility of effective action against global warming. In established economies, only 48 percent said they were optimistic.

That optimism also translates into a greater willingness to change buying habits to fight climate change: 53 percent in emerging economies, versus 24 percent in developed ones.

Could it be that the economic rise of nations like China and India could actually save our planet rather than doom it, as some have warned? Accenture’s findings raise some pretty provocative possibilities.

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