Britain must pick up the pace in the race against climate change



Britain will need to run faster to keep up with the race against climate change in the run-up to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London, according to a study by researchers from Imperial College London commissioned by EDF Energy, the first sustainability partner of London 2012.

The Low Energy Alternative Future (LEAF) Index, now in its second year, asked 5,511 respondents across Europe for their views on sustainability and low energy living.

Summary of results

  • Every country shows improvements since last year's report, but the UK slips from sixth to joint eighth place in European survey on attitudes to sustainability.
  • Turkey tops the LEAF Index, climbing from third place last year, with three-quarters (75%) of those surveyed expressing concern about climate change
  • 81% of British respondents said that they have already made some changes to their lifestyle to be 'greener', the same result as the 2010 survey
  • Sweden and Germany make leaps up the table, but the Netherlands remain in the lowest position, where only 69% of respondents have made changes in an effort to be 'greener'
  • Respondents across Europe agree that financial incentives and physical tools are key to helping them reduce their energy usage.

Turkey's leap to first place this year has been due to a rise in awareness of climate change, with the proportion of those concerned about it rising from half (48%) to three-quarters (75%) and only 8% doubting its existence.

The country making the biggest gain in this year's LEAF Index was Sweden, rising 4.8 points, followed closely by Germany's gain of 4.4  points; the UK fell behind with an increase of 1.8 points.

Turkey, Spain and France showed a high amount of concern, with over 70% of respondents expressing concern, but 10th-placed Netherlands showed that three-quarters of people rate their concern over climate change as 'only a little' or 'not at all'.

Still hope for Britain

89% of UK survey respondents said that they are willing to make changes to save energy in their daily lives if given the right incentives. 71% of UK respondents stated that financial support would help them most, and over half (51%) would be encouraged by physical tools like smart meters.

Commenting on the results, Gareth Wynn, Director of London 2012, EDF, said: 'We are now just over one year away from the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, when the attention of the world will turn to the UK. This represents a huge opportunity to demonstrate that we are making real progress when it comes to living in a more sustainable way.'

'However, as the results have shown this year, there is always more that can be done. Britons will need to continue in their efforts to be green in order to keep up with the very positive pace of change we're seeing across Europe in the research,' he added.

ICM interviewed a random sample of 5,511 adults aged 18 to 64. Interviews were conducted online in 10 countries between 24th of May to 3rd of June 2011, with 1000 interviews in the UK and 500 in all other countries.

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