Britons unwilling to change despite climate threat
Few people are making significant changes to their lifestyle to counter climate change despite a widespread acceptance of its dangers, according to new research.
A snapshot of attitudes for the Energy Saving Trust found that while 80 per cent of the public believed climate change was affecting Britain, almost half were doing nothing to halt its impact. The Green Barometer, based on polling of 1,192 households in February, found that while many were prepared to do small things such as conserving water while brushing their teeth, most were not prepared to miss out on a foreign holiday or a plasma television.
Forty per cent of people were doing nothing to use less energy, while a further 39 per cent were prepared only to make small changes. Only 4 per cent had made big lifestyle changes.
Strong environmental initiatives were also unwelcome. The public considered strong green measures such as new taxes, road charging and carbon rationing to be less socially acceptable than banning smoking in public or same-sex marriages.
When asked whether they would support a "carbon credit card" that would set a personal pollution limit - yet allow the purchase of carbon credits from others - 42 per cent ruled the idea out, 28 per cent said probably not and only 5 per cent definitely agreed.
Broadly, the research confirms the existence of what might be called a Green Gap: the difference between what people should do and what they actually do on the environment.
It will make gloomy reading for campaigners days before the UN spells out the potential damage from global warming in the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Friday's verdict will focus on the likelihood of rising seas, increased droughts, dying rivers, hurricanes and flooding, failing harvests, human displacement and wars over scarce resources such as water.
"In coming decades, changes in the environment - and the resulting upheavals, from droughts to inundated coastal areas - are likely to become a major driver of war and conflict," the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, warned.
Green pressure groups say that individuals will have to make sacrifices if Britain is to meet its target of reducing carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, by 30 per cent by 2020.
But the Green Barometer, which will be published quarterly, suggests we have a leisurely attitude towards greenhouse gas emissions, which rose to their highest for 10 years, three per cent higher than 1997.
Most people (73 per cent) were prepared to stop the tap running while brushing their teeth but only 56 per cent would walk to work instead of driving, when walking was feasible. Just over half of one per cent would use local produce to cut food miles. Twenty-two per cent would be willing to cut out one foreign holiday a year and 21 per cent to shun a plasma television.
Norman Baker, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Environment Group, said the Government needed to encourage people to contribute to a "universal effort". "People believe that climate change is there but they think what they do won't make a difference. There's a major hurdle to get over on that," the Liberal Democrat MP said.
David Lewis, from the Mind Lab consultancy, said: "Unfortunately a majority of us still believes that climate change, while important, is not especially urgent with a minority still clinging to the view it is neither urgent nor important.
"Numerous psychological studies have shown bringing about significant changes in our own attitudes, beliefs and behaviour is always difficult and often traumatic," he said.
"Often, indeed, such changes occur only as the result of some major crisis."
Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas
Desert life threatened by climate change and human exploitation
Carbon dioxide accumulates as seas and forests struggle to absorb
The ugliest animals on earth: Blobfish, axolotl and proboscis monkey battle it out to be named least attractive beast
Amazon tribal chief’s SOS: the white man is destroying everything
Campaigners lobby Duchess of Cornwall to persuade her son-in-law to cease Knebworth solar farm
- 1 Daniele Watts: Django Unchained star's white boyfriend Brian Lucas confirms LAPD internally investigating 'racist' detainment
- 2 Isis release 'Flames of War' video warning Obama of attacks troops could face in Iraq
- 3 Pakistani passenger power forces two politicians off plane
- 4 Say yes to 'no-poo': It's been three years since I stopped washing my hair
- 5 John Travolta addresses former pilot's gay romance allegations publicly for the first time: 'That was the lowest I'd ever felt'
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...
£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher (mater...
£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for an ...
£22000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A West Yorkshire School i...