Poll shows that Russians have grown more environmentally aware over past four years: Report

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Publish date: August 19, 2009

Written by: Charles Digges

The past several years have seen a steady growth in the number of Russians who say they are prepared to contribute personally to solving the country’s myriad environmental problems, a set of surprising poll results from the VTsIOM national public opinion study agency, ITAR-TASS reported.

Though the increase in Russian’s saying they would be willing to be apart of environmental improvement activities and the work of ecological non-governmental organisations is by no means staggering, it is nonetheless an eye-brow raising statistic at a time when NGOs and environmentalists are some of the Kremlin’s main targets of harassment.

"The share of those who would like to take part in the activity of public organizations addressing ecological issues went up from 26 percent in 2005 to 30 percent this year," the polling agency said in a statement released Wednesday, the news wire reported.

Another seven percent already have already pitched in doing work for environmental organisations, the study said. Another 16 percent of those polled said they had no comment on the issue.

The study said that of those polled residents of St Petersburg and Moscow were the most reluctant to take part in environmental activities and were the most careless about ecology.

A more detailed poll that allowed respondents to give more than just one answer, according to ITAR-TASS’s summation of the poll, showed that some 36 percent of Russians are willing to take part in activities like planting trees – one of the most important and simple ways to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, and thus take part in the climate change battle on a local level.

These respondents also said they would be willing to participate in garbage collection in Russia’s notoriously dirty cities.

The break down in the detailed poll also indicated that some 13 percent of respondents are prepared to cooperate with the work of ecological organisations, and 9 percent would help collect signatures for appeals to government officials.

Six percent of those polled said they would participate in protests, demonstrations and public education, where 15 percent of those polled on these questions remained undecided and 38 percent said they would not.

ITAR-TASS also reported that now, as in VTsIOM’s 2005 results, Russian citizens tend to lay the burden of dealing with environmental problems at the doorstep of local rather than federal officials.

The opinion poll was conducted on May 30-31 2009 in 140 villages and cities of Russia. An audience of 1,600 was questioned. The statistical error margin was no greater than 3.4 percent, ITAR-TASS reported of the VTsIOM study.