British public wants action on climate change, new poll reveals

By agency reporter
June 2, 2009

A new poll released today by the UK-based international development agency Christian Aid, reveals the extent of the British public’s concern about climate change with a majority saying the government needs to show more leadership in tackling global warming.

In summary, the poll shows that:
* 77 per cent believe the UK government ought to do more to reduce carbon emissions.
* 57 per cent say a political party's climate policies would influence how they vote.
* 70 per cent want the UK government to take a leading role in international climate change negotiations.
* 90 per cent have taken steps to reduce their own carbon emissions.

The You Gov survey, released ahead of World Environment Day on 5 June 2009, shows that three in five (59 per cent) UK adults say they are worried about the effects of climate change and 77 per cent think the government ought to do more to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions.

Even many of those who said they were ‘not very worried’ about climate change were among the 90 per cent who said they have taken steps to reduce their own emissions.

Ahead of this week’s European and local elections, more than half the UK population (57 per cent) say that a political party’s climate policies would influence the way they vote.

As UN negotiators meet in Bonn this week for the latest round of climate change talks ahead of the UN summit in Copenhagen in December, 70 per cent of the public want to see the UK Government taking a leading role in international climate change negotiations.

At the Copenhagen talks, the international community must agree a new carbon capping climate deal to come into force when the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012.

Christian Aid is campaigning on climate change to highlight the plight of millions of poor people in developing countries for whom extreme weather conditions are now a matter of life or death.

Paul Brannen, head of campaigns at Christian Aid commented: "The public are sending Gordon Brown a clear message: step up your leadership on climate change."

He added: "the majority of voters want the UK Government to take a lead in the vital international climate change talks in Copenhagen this year and to meet this demand, the Prime Minister must personally lead the UK delegation."

Three quarters (75 per cent) of the public who believe the Government ought to do more want public money used to reduce carbon emissions by investment in renewable energy and 73 per cent want better and cheaper public transport.

Sixty per cent want to see increased grants to pay for solar panels, wind turbines and insulation in their homes, 53 per cent feel investment in electric and hybrid cars would help the motor industry clean up its act and 52 per cent want to see companies that pollute the most pay higher taxes.

The poll revealed that people are already changing their own habits. Even at a time of financial crisis, only 10 per cent of those surveyed said they had done nothing to reduce their own carbon emissions.

Seventy-five per cent of consumers have switched to energy efficient light bulbs and 70 per cent do not leave electrical items on standby; 57 per cent no longer heat rooms at home unnecessarily and 42 per cent use tumble-driers less. Lifestyle changes have also extended to transport, with 36 per cent of respondents using the car less and 19 per cent taking fewer flights.

Christian Aid is asking members of the public to show their support for tackling climate change by taking its Copenhagen pledge at

In signing the pledge, individuals commit to campaigning for a fair and just deal in Copenhagen, to lobbying the richest countries for repayment of their carbon debt, to doing all they can to reduce their own carbon footprint and to encouraging friends and family to campaign on climate change.

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