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Climate change overtakes pandemics as biggest concern of global experts | Climate News

Global experts are now more concerned with the inability to act in the face of the climate crisis than with infectious diseases, as the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow and major protest movements have brought the issue to the fore.

According to the World Economic Forum’s annual survey of global risks, three environmental risks – climate action failure, extreme weather and loss of biodiversity – were of more concern than anything else.

The COVID-19 pandemic eliminated concerns about climate action at the top of the list in early 2020. Climate change had also been the biggest concern in 2016, just after the Paris Agreement talks.

Climate change: UK public concern for the environment is twice as high as the economy, poll finds

Between 2017 and 2019, weapons of mass destruction were the main concern of experts interviewed as North Korea ramped up its nuclear program. Those worries have completely disappeared from the top 10 this year.

“Long-term threat”

“The climate crisis remains the greatest long-term threat to humanity,” said Peter Giger, chief risk officer at Zurich Insurance Group.

“Failure to act on climate change could reduce global GDP by a sixth and the commitments made to COP26 are still not sufficient to meet the 1.5C target.

“It is not too late for governments and businesses to act on the risks they face and to drive an innovative, purposeful and inclusive transition that protects economies and people.”

The survey was largely completed by people in Europe, where 44% of the experts surveyed came from.

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Over 84% were either concerned about the world’s outlook. Many feared the pandemic had hit social cohesion and livelihood crises, as well as impacting climate action, mental health and extreme weather conditions.

“Health and economic disruptions are deepening social divides,” said Saadia Zahidi, managing director of the World Economic Forum.

“This creates tensions at a time when collaboration within companies and within the international community will be fundamental to ensuring a more consistent and rapid global recovery.”

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A new global climate pact was reached at the COP26 summit in Glasgow in November

Analysis: what does the world think of the COP26 agreement?

However, UK experts were far more concerned about the cybersecurity failure, with climate change not even appearing in the top five concerns of UK experts interviewed.

Meanwhile, a separate poll released today by Ipsos Mori found the British public to be more concerned about the coronavirus than environmental issues, which had dominated polls around the COP26 talks.

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