Knowledge for better food systems

Public Attitudes towards climate change and the impact of transport

The Department for Transport has published its annual survey of public attitudes towards climate change and the impact of transport.
The Department for Transport has published its annual survey of public attitudes towards climate change and the impact of transport. Key findings are as follows: Levels of concern and knowledge about climate change
  • Overall, the findings from the 2009 Opinions climate change survey suggest little change from last year, indicating that people's attitudes towards climate change in relation to transport have essentially remained unchanged.
  • In 2009, 76% of adults said that they were very or fairly concerned about climate change, with about a quarter being very concerned.
  • The proportion of adults considering climate change one of the top three most important issues facing Britain was about a quarter (24%) in 2009.
  • In each year about 10% of adults said that they knew a lot about climate change; in 2009 a further 43% said they knew a fair amount. Just over one in ten said that they knew hardly anything or nothing.
  • The vast majority of adults believed that the world and UK climate was being affected. Just over one in ten adults indicated that they were not convinced or were unsure whether the UK climate was being affected.
  • Although the majority (about 60%) of adults felt that climate change would have little or no effect on them personally, in 2009 85% thought the affect on future generations would be a great deal or quite a lot.
  • The majority of respondents believed that transport emissions contribute to climate change, with 65% spontaneously selecting emissions from road transport as a cause of climate change, although this proportion has fallen significantly since 2006.
  • When asked which modes of transport contribute most the public were most likely to choose cars or aeroplanes.
  • The public were most likely to trust independent scientists to provide correct information about climate change, although this has fallen significantly since 2006. Correspondingly, the proportion not trusting any source has increased significantly over time, from 6% in 2006 to 12% in 2009.
Potential for behaviour change
  • Two thirds of adults (66%) felt that they themselves could have some or a little influence on limiting climate change, with around three-quarters (74%) saying that they would be prepared to change their behaviour in some way to help limit climate change.
  • In 2009, around a quarter (24%) thought there was no point in changing their behaviour because the consequences of climate change are too uncertain, while a similar proportion (22%) believed the consequences to be too far in the future to worry about.
  • Just under 60% of adults believed that "Individuals should try to limit their car use for the sake of the environment".
  • Support for policies on "soft" measures to encourage alternative modes, such as improved public transport, was far higher than measures that would increase the cost of car travel. Support for both increasing tax on petrol and higher taxes on less environmentally friendly cars (the most popular pricing measure chosen by 37% of adults) decreased between 2006 and 2009.
  • The vast majority of adults supported the Government persuading people to purchase less environmentally damaging vehicles, although the proportion supporting has reduced over time from 87% in 2006 to 81% in 2009.
  • In 2009, 45% of adults believed "Air travel should be limited for the sake of the environment".
  • Around a fifth (21%) of adults supported increasing the cost of air travel to help reduce transport emissions.
 

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