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Climate change momentum fading: Asia-Pacific survey
LIMA, Nov 19 (AFP) Nov 19, 2008
Climate change is fading as a priority in the Pacific Rim as the gloomy state of the global economy takes precedence, a survey of opinion leaders showed Wednesday.

The Pacific Economic Cooperation Council, a non-governmental group, released an annual survey of leaders in government, business and media ahead of a summit in Peru of 21 Asia-Pacific leaders.

Twenty-four percent of some 400 opinion leaders surveyed said the top priority for Asia-Pacific leaders should be addressing the US-bred financial crisis, far outweighing other issues.

Last year, the top priority was reviving stalled global trade negotiations, at 12 percent, but climate change came close at eight percent. Global warming did not even figure among the top priorities this year.

"We've been swamped by bad economic news and you don't have to look at our survey results alone to see that the interest and focus on climate change has dissipated somewhat," said Yuen Pau Woo, co-author of the report.

"You see the same shift in focus in the public away from climate change questions to questions of economic survival and growth," said Woo, president of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada.

The survey was released a day after US president-elect Barack Obama pledged to engage the world on climate change, which UN scientists warn threatens extinction for many species by the end of the century.

George W. Bush, the outgoing president, was the industrialized world's main holdout from the Kyoto Protocol, arguing that mandatory cuts in carbon emissions blamed for global warming were too costly for the US economy.

The survey also found that 78 percent of opinion leaders predicted the United States would suffer much weaker growth in the coming year and that a US recession was the main risk for the region.

Compared with previous years, the Pacific Rim was less worried about high energy and food prices and the risk of conflict between China and Taiwan, the survey said.

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