A majority of Europeans say they consider climate change to be one of the most pressing global problems, above an ongoing economic unraveling, according to a new poll released Friday.

This is encouraging news. The survey shows that the citizens of Europe can see that economic challenges are not the only ones we face, Connie Hedegaard, European climate commissioner, told The Associated Press. A clear majority of Europeans expect their politicians and business leaders to address the serious climate challenge now.

Poverty and lack of resources still won out as the most pressing problem, according to the survey commissioned by the European Commission.

Overall (climate change) is seen as the second most serious issue facing the world, after poverty, hunger and lack of drinking water, and a more serious problem than the economic situation, stated the report based on 26,840 interviews with residents across Europe in June.

Still, one in five Europeans polled said that climate change is the most serious problem facing the union.

The survey also showed the attitudes among Europeans are shifting. A similar survey in 2009 showed that 17 percent of those polled said that climate change was the most pressing problem, a figure that increased by 20 percent in 2011. During the same time frame, 2 percent more Europeans said the economic crisis was the number one problem, from 14 percent polled in 2009 to 16 percent polled in 2011.

Concerns over climate change had a wide range from Luxemburg most concerned about climate change (34 percent) to Portugal (7 percent).

In what was may have been a reference to the U.S., Hedegaard told The Associated Press, Considering that in some countries there is still this debate whether climate change is happening at all, it is really reassuring to see that the European public understands the gravity of the climate challenge.