It might have passed you by but earlier this week the Government published the results of their ‘Public attitudes to climate change and the impact of transport’, 2011 version.
What it reveals makes uncomfortable reading for anyone who believes in the threat of climate change because from the figures it is clear they are in a shrinking majority.
According to the survey:
- 76% of people are at least fairly convinced that climate change is happening (87% in 2006)
- 65% of people are at least fairly concerned about climate change (81%)
- 65% of people are willing their behaviour to tackle climate change (77%)
- 55% of people associate emissions from road transport with climate change (72%)
A majority (84%)of drivers questioned said they would be willing to buy cars with lower CO2 emissions and most (69% of women and 53% of men) said they were prepared to drive more slowly on the motorway.
Unsurprisingly, so-called pull methods of reducing emissions from road transport – such as a greater emphasis on eco-driving in the driving test and more public transport – were more popular than push measures like higher environmental taxes.
For policy makers this presents a real dilemma. It is as if a degree of climate change apathy has set in. Intuitively, the greater concern someone has about something – especially if they can relate it to themselves and their loved ones – the more likely they are to voluntarily alter their behaviour to mitigate it. But if self-regulation is tempered by scepticism about the problems we face then it increases the case for direct action.
In theory government could drive us all off the road tomorrow by doubling fuel duty. Clearly this is not politically or economically possible so politicians are left trying to tread a path between using the carrot and the stick, while simultaneously trying to convince us all that climate change is worth taking seriously. This survey demonstrates exactly what they are up against.