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Public fed up with “self-righteous” environmentalists

by David Masters
September 17, 2009

Britain is bored with hearing about climate change, fed up with “smug” environmentalists, and cynical about green government initiatives, according to a new report.

Research by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) found climate change-related communications cause most people to switch off.

Interviews and workshops by IPPR discovered people are tired of hearing about climate change despite its implications.

The public either views the government’s stance on climate change as an excuse to increase taxes, or sees government decisions such as allowing airport expansions as hypocritical.

They also resent being made to feel guilty about their lifestyle, and dismiss environmentalists as “smug” and “self-righteous”.

The IPPR believes the public will only be convinced to adopt low-carbon lifestyles if they are shown that going green saves money.

“Success will lie in convincing consumers that in adopting lower-carbon lifestyles, they can save money and have control in a chaotic world, and they can do the right thing and look good without being an environmentalist,” said Simon Retallack, IPPR head of climate change.

“If we can achieve that, while putting the policies in place to ensure that lower-carbon options are affordable, attractive and visible, we will have gone a long way towards mobilising the power of consumers in the battle against climate change.”

Environmental campaign group WWF Scotland welcomed the report and sympathised with the public’s views, especially on “climate-destroying policies pursued by the very governments who also claim to be green”.

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