UK citizens want action on environment – but don’t want to pay for it.

Guardian Environment reports today on a Guardian/ICM poll which shows that taking action against climate change matters more than tackling the global economic downturn.

When asked whether tackling the environment or the economy – given global economic problems – should be the government’s priority, 52% said the environment and 44% said the economy. That contradicts the widespread assumption that environmental issues are seen by voters as a luxury to be put aside in tough economic times.

But the poll, reflecting findings in earlier surveys, also shows people want the government to sort out the problem rather than take on responsibility themselves.

While most people place the environment ahead of the economy as a national priority, only 19% say they would actually choose to pay more for a more expensive environmentally friendly product while shopping. Far more people, 58%, would buy a cheaper alternative, even if it was less good for the environment.

The solution; environmental options shouldn’t be the alternatives but become main stream via legislative and quality controls. Then consumers will benefit from costs driven down by economies of scale.

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10 Responses to UK citizens want action on environment – but don’t want to pay for it.

  1. Jeremy says:

    I agree, the consumer will always take the cheaper option. At the moment ‘green’ products are an expensive niche market, and that’s not good enough. It may well take legislation to push those into the mainstream, but that’s definitely what it needs – sustainable consumption can’t remain a ‘lifestyle option’. It has to become the standard.

  2. matt says:

    Bang on the button Jeremy. And products need to last, otherwise they get taken back by the producer at their cost. Guarantees on products should be a minimum 3 years and consumers should not be asked to take out extra insurance to cover ‘possible’ breakdowns. The scandal needs to end.

  3. the Grit says:

    Hi y’all,

    True, but, if we follow through on your logic, shouldn’t the Government also ban alcohol, tobacco, meat, cosmetics, synthetic fibers, gasoline, coal, having more than one child, fire, cosmetics, home construction, electronics manufacturing, mining, agriculture, witchcraft, the burning of witches, textile production, electrical generation, and farting? Shouldn’t the Government also, using the same logic force people to jog 3 miles a day, turn the other cheek, think good thoughts, speak only kind things about fellow citizens and offer up sacrifices to our rulers once a week in public ceremony? Oh, and while we’re playing the “Government knows best game,” I’d like to enter Woody Allen’s example of totalitarian Government gone wild, in which all citizens were required to wear clean underwear each day and, to make Government inspection easier, said underwear was to be worn on the outside of ones other garments. It’s a scary road y’all are suggesting we go down, but we’d be in good company, Hitler, Mussolini, Castro, Pol Pot, Stalin…

    the Grit

  4. matt says:

    Bollocks Grit. Plain diversionary scaremongering …. and you know it!

  5. the Grit says:

    Hi matt,

    Bollocks, an absolutely fabulous term! If, however, my logic is invalid kindly point out the specific flaw instead of labeling it scaremongering, which tends to make me think you know I’m right.

    the Grit

  6. earthpal says:

    The denialists often use the emotive argument that fighting climate change with legislation rather than depending on people’s goodwill is an attack on our liberties. They know that this really gets to people who then see it as justification for their failure to change their eco-behaviour.

    I’m not much into nanny governments but some laws are just necessary. Just as the law prevents us from trashing our neighbour’s property, so it should prevent us from trashing the planet. We can’t be free to do whatever we want in this world because there are usually consequences that affect others. Giving a person unlimited feedom to do whatever they like will deny someone else their own rights.

    So Grit, we’re not suggesting that ‘government knows best’. We’re telling the government to listen to the science, to learn from stubborn human behaviour and to act accordingly. It’s not totalitarianism. It’s using our democratic rights.

  7. matt says:

    > Just as the law prevents us from trashing our neighbour’s property, so it should prevent us from trashing the planet. We can’t be free to do whatever we want in this world because there are usually consequences that affect others. Giving a person unlimited feedom to do whatever they like will deny someone else their own rights.

    Well said EP!

  8. the Grit says:

    Hi EP,

    That was well said, at least until your got to the science part at the end. Sorry, but the science just isn’t there and, even if it was, it’s a very poor justification for massive Government control of our lives which, no matter how well advocated, is what you’re proposing. The majority can be just as bad a tyrant as any individual.

    the Grit

  9. earthpal says:

    Hi Grit,

    If the science isn’t there then what’s that pesky little global scientific consensus all about, the one telling us that humans are contributing to climate change?

    I’m not asking for government control over our lives but sometimes, humans need to be pushed in the right direction. Voluntary participation cannot be relied upon. Humans are too lazy and too selfish.

    But I do think government eco-legislation should be applied more firmly to big business and polticians/celebrities with their gratuitously excessive carbon footprints. Our very own Gordon Brown told us en route to Japan that we were wasting too much food. He’s right of course but he is staggeringly condescending because with food prices rising, people will naturally stop wasting food. Point is, whether it’s food or fuel, people only start to cut back when it’s hurting their pocket . . . when they can actually feel the effect themselves rather than reading about unknown babies dying of thirst and malnutrition half way across the world. People are selfish.

  10. the Grit says:

    Hi ep,

    You should know that there is no scientific consensus on Global Warming. While the news media would like to convince everyone that there is, with a modest bit of research one can see that it’s not true. For instance, and off the top of my head, last year in North America was one of the coldest years on record, last year there was record ice accumulation in Antarctica, last year the Greenland ice sheets increased in depth, and so on. Any conscious you notice from reading the news is, if you look into it, only there because of a bias in the news media. There are hundreds of scientists that refute “Global Warming” but both the press and the IPCC ignore their input.

    Along this line, if you really want to get a look at the politics behind the science, you should read the only publicly disclosed pre-publication records of an IPCC report. They screwed up once and operated out of the US, so our freedom of information act, and a lawsuit, forced the UN to release the full documentation. Do a Google search on “IPCC fourth assessment report working group” and you’ll find, if you have time to read through it, that there was a great deal of non-consensus among the scientists compiling and creaking said report, not to mention a good deal of out-and-out name calling at the insistence of the people in charge insisting on ignoring the opinions of the reviewing scientists. On the other hand, what can you expect from a report sponsored by a Government body with a history of corruption and that stands to profit from a finding that Global Warming is real?

    As to humans being too lazy and too selfish and the need for the Government needing to push them in the correct direction, I’m sure Hitler, Stalin, and any other dictator felt exactly the same sense of frustration. While I agree with your general assessment, and would add stupid or uneducated to your list of descriptions, I also must point out that anyone who thinks they are superior enough to make decisions for the common herd is much more dangerous in the short run than general apathy can be over the long run.

    An excellent example is the current high fuel crisis in the US. A little over ten years ago, we had a political fight over how to handle our future energy security. On one hand, we had the proposition that it would be a good thing if we produced more of our own energy instead of depending on foreign countries for it. On the opposing side, there were those who said that making use of our own natural resources would, harm the environment, be a potential nuisance to rich beach property owners, and take ten years to produce results. Ten years later, oil prices have tripled and seventy something percent of the US population is screaming to force the oil companies to drill anywhere there may be even a drop of oil. While our talking heads are not expecting this to be a large factor in our next election cycle, I’d be willing to bet that any politician, except in the most liberal areas, who doesn’t support all domestic oil production is not going to win office.

    I totally agree with you on your point about politicians/celebrities living up to their talk.

    As to the rest, on the cutting back due to economic pressure stuff, what you are describing is capitalism. Welcome to the club.

    On your implied point of personal charitable giving, the US on a per capita basis kicks ass on the rest of the world. We are number one in this area, and have been for many years.

    the Grit

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