Apathy of the young hits green policies

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The Independent Online

The green crusade has fallen victim to public apathy.

The green crusade has fallen victim to public apathy. Fewer people are willing to make sacrifices to protect the environment than a decade ago, according to a report in British Social Attitudes.

Despite high-profile issues such as genetically-modified food, BSE in cattle, and the transport crisis brought on by problems on the railways, people are less likely than before to take a stand.

Apathy towards environmental protests has increased most among the young. In 1993, half of 18 to 24-year-olds had signed a petition, but that figure has now fallen to 31 per cent. People in the 40 to 50 age group were more likely to lend their signature to a cause than the youth.

The young are also least likely to recycle their rubbish regularly. Only one-third of 18 to 24-year-olds do so, a much lower proportion than the 40 to 70 age groups who have made recycling schemes a success.

The number of people willing to pay higher prices to protect the environment has also fallen from 46 per cent in 1993 to 43 per cent today, while those willing to pay much higher taxes dipped from 37 per cent to 31.

Just 14 per cent of people today are willing to cut back on car usage, although this is more than the "lowly" nine per cent in 1993. The authors accept that the "well-publicised problems of the UK's often shambolic and expensive public transport system" could have had an impact.