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Britain drops behind on attitudes to sustainability

Climate change news – by GreenWise staff
3rd August 2011
Britain may need to step up its game when it comes to attitudes on low energy living and sustainability, according to a Europe-wide index surveying consumer behaviour around issues on climate change.
The Low Energy Alternative Future (LEAF) Index, compiled for the second time round, shows the UK had slipped from sixth to joint eighth place under leaders such as Turkey and France this year, despite a 1.8 point increase in the index compared to last year.

The index, constructed by Professor Nigel Brandon of Imperial College London, was commissioned by EDF Energy to gauge attitudes a year before Britain powers the 2012 Olympic Games.

Despite having lost rank in the list, British respondents showed progressive attitudes towards climate change. As was the case last year, just over eight out of 10 British respondents said they had already made changes in their lifestyles to become greener.

"Its not that the UK has stood still, but other countries have gone forward faster," Professor Nigel Brandon said.

Survey findings
Looking at the survey data, the UK ranking could improve if British residents were given an encouraging nudge to be more sustainable. According to the poll, 89 per cent of UK survey respondents said they would be willing to make changes to save energy in their daily lives if given the right incentives. Financial support was listed as what would provide the most encouragement to 71 per cent of UK residents, as well as tools like smart meters, which 51 per cent said would help them to become more energy efficient.

Of the sectors that were analysed in the polls, transportation was the only area that showed a declined, a release from EDF Energy said. A shift towards more polluting means of traveling was particularly prevalent in countries such as Turkey, Sweden and the Netherlands. Cars remain the most popular mode of transportation in Europe and in the UK, where 50 per cent of commutes are still conducted by motor vehicle.

Researchers remain optimistic, though they insist that more needs to be done to increase Europe’s sustainability and energy efficiency.

"Whilst some countries inevitably perform better than others, the great finding this year has been that all countries have improved since we last carried out the research; a very positive sign indeed," Brandon said. "All that remains is for those countries toward the bottom end of the table, and Britain in particular, to take those steps necessary to catch up with the leaders."

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