Thursday December 14, 2006
Oh dear - we've been caught out. All that talk of climate change and we still haven't got round to insulating the loft.
A damning study from Cambridge University today exposes Guardian readers as being worse than readers of the tabloids or the Telegraph when it comes to insulating their homes.
Asked about the most important issues facing the UK, Guardian (and Independent) readers put the environment at the top of their concerns, followed by energy. These responses are a stark contrast to those from readers of the Sun and the Star and the more conservative broadsheets, who are much more worried by asylum seekers, crime, healthcare and terrorism.
But when it comes to actually doing something about it, well ...
The study by David Reiner, of the Judge Business School, comes up with the shaming statistic that only 42% of Guardian or Indy readers have installed insulation, compared to 72% of Express readers .
Dr Reiner concludes: "They show a clear divergence between their views as citizens and their actions as consumers."
Apart from a slight tendency to cycle more, Guardian readers are not cutting down on car use more than anyone else. The Electricity Policy Research Group (EPRG) at Cambridge commissioned YouGov to survey 1,000 UK residents on issues ranging from the future of the electricity supply to their current purchasing decisions. While climate change concerns are voiced most strongly among the young, Liberal Democrat voters and Guardian/Independent readers, these attitudes are not translated into personal action.
Paradoxically, older people who are least concerned with climate change are also far more likely to have taken concrete action to save energy, including buying energy efficient light bulbs, insulating their homes and lowering their thermostats.
The survey also revealed that while half of the respondents had changed electric or gas suppliers in the past five years, 90% cited reasons of price and just 4% claimed greener energy as the reason they switched. (His report mentions that consumers are more loyal to their electricity suppliers than they are to their spouses and partners.)
The poll discovered significant support for investing in renewable energy, with over two-thirds of respondents saying they would support wind farms even if situated in their own locality. Roughly half of the people surveyed supported the building of new nuclear power stations, provided they were based on existing sites.
Surprisingly, one-third supported the establishment of new sites around the country. Dr Reiner said: "There is a real engagement among the British public on questions of energy and environment, particularly over climate change. There is a willingness to support government policies, but even those groups that are the strongest supporters of policy action do not translate this support into their personal energy saving behaviour. They show a clear divergence between their views as citizens and their actions as consumers." The message for the politicians, he says, is that it is no good hoping people will alter their behaviour on a sufficient scale to tackle climate change unless they have clear financial incentives.
He concludes: "There is clearly a public appetite for policy actions to address global warming, but our survey offers a clear indication that relying on self-motivated behavioural change, even (or perhaps especially) among the most earnest and best intentioned, is inadequate to the task and that stronger incentives and clear price signals will be needed to effect tangible change."
So all you earnest and well-intentioned Guardian readers out there - stop talking about saving the planet and get on with it!
Click Here for the Article: http://education.guardian.co.uk/higher/news/story/0,,1972380,00.html