Public won’t change to save the planet

People may accept that human activity causes climate change but don't want to do much about it

Ben Webster Environment Editor

17th December 2013

Most people want economic growth to have priority over cutting emissions despite concerns over climate change and an acceptance that humans are causing it, a survey has found. Only a fifth (21 per cent) support paying extra for goods and services to help to deal with climate change. Almost three uarters (!2 per cent) said their own standard of living is more important to them than helping to solve pro"lems caused "y climate change. #he findings, from a survey commissioned "y the $oyal %ociety for the &ncouragement of Arts, Manufactures and 'ommerce ($%A), suggest that (avid 'ameron was in tune with most of the population when he was said to have wanted )to get rid of all this green crap*. #he +rime Minister later said he did not )recall using* that phrase "ut did not deny having done so. #he $%A said the findings showed the )main "arriers* to cutting emissions were not climate sceptics who uestioned the science lin,ing human activity to glo"al warming "ut those who accepted the lin, and were unwilling to do much a"out it. -ritain was in a state of )stealth denial*, it said, a"out climate change and environmental groups and politicians needed to "e )less green* when trying to persuade people of the need for action. #he report "y the $%A.s %ocial -rain 'entre concluded/ )Mischaracterising climate change as an exclusively environmental issue, rather than a "roader systemic threat to pu"lic health, national security and the glo"al financial system, has led to the ma0ority of the -ritish pu"lic failing to ta,e glo"al warming seriously.* A 1ou2ov survey of 2,333 adults, pu"lished with the report, found that cutting one.s own car"on footprint was last when people were as,ed to prioritise a list of actions. (ealing with the financial crisis was first, followed "y promoting economic growth and dealing with immigration. &ven ),eeping li"raries open* ran,ed higher than )"ehaviour change* to cut emissions. 4owever, 51 per cent of people said they "elieved the climate was changing and that human activity was at least partly to "lame. More than half (61 per cent) said economic growth should "e given priority, )even if helping to solve climate change suffers to some extent*. 1et the same proportion agreed that significant "ehaviour change was needed to reduce emissions. Only 21 per cent said they would support increasing income tax "y 1 per cent if it were spent directly helping to deal with climate change. #he idea was opposed "y 77 per cent. 8hen as,ed to ran, potential sacrifices to reduce emissions, eating one fewer portion of meat a wee, was the most accepta"le. 2iving up a car was the least attractive, followed "y "ecoming a vegetarian.

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