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Public demand government leadership on climate change

77% believe the UK government ought to do more to reduce carbon emissions
57% say a political party's climate policies would influence how they vote
70% want UK government to take a leading role in international climate change negotiations
90% have taken steps to reduce their own carbon emissions 

A new poll released today by 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.

The You Gov survey, released ahead of World Environment Day on 5 June, 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 UK 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, Germany 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 said: ‘The public are sending Gordon Brown a clear message; step up your leadership on climate change.  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 investing in renewable energy, closely followed by better and cheaper public transport (73 per cent).

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.

Three quarters (75 per cent) of consumers have switched to energy efficient light bulbs and 70 per cent do not leave electrical items on standby, while more than half (57 per cent) no longer heat rooms at home unnecessarily and 42 per cent tumble dry 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 www.christianaid.org.uk/copenhagen

In signing the pledge, individuals commit to:  

  • Campaigning for a fair and just deal in Copenhagen

  • Lobbying the richest countries to repay their carbon debt

  •  Doing all they can to reduce their own carbon footprint and to encourage friends and family to campaign on climate change. 


For press information call Karen Hedges on +44 (0) 20 7523 2404 email khedges@christian-aid.org.

Notes to Editors: 

  • Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in 49 countries. We act where the need is greatest, regardless of religion, helping people build the life they deserve. 

  • Christian Aid is a member of the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition. 11 million strong, we are the committed supporters, campaigners, hearts, minds and voices of over 100 organisations.

  • All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2127 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 12th - 14th May 2009.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).”