Chapter summary: Environment

Concern about climate change: a paler shade of green?

Environmental disasters around the world have provided recent reminders of
the challenges facing our planet. How has public concern and behaviour in this
area evolved in recent years? Have they been affected by events such as the
‘climategate’ row over scientific evidence and the onset of recession?

Public concern about the threat posed by different types of environmental
pollution declined over the past decade, and scepticism concerning the
seriousness of such threats increased.

  • 28% regard air pollution from cars as “very” or “extremely” dangerous to the environment, down from 54% in 2000.
  • 37% think many claims about environmental threats are exaggerated, up from 24% in
    2000. The proportion who think it is “definitely true” that fossil fuels contribute to climate
    change has fallen from 35% to 20%.

Some green behaviours are much more common than others, and, aside
from recycling, are most likely to be practised by those who are concerned
about the environment

  • Recycling is now very common, but other forms of environmentally-friendly behaviour are far less common. Four in ten (39%) reduce energy use in the home and just two in ten (19%) cut back on driving the car.
  • Higher rates are found among those who think the rise in the world’s temperature caused by climate change is dangerous, half (52%) of whom reduce their energy use in the home.

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