Warnings about the effects of climate change have made most Britons aware of the crisis, but few are willing to make major changes to the way they live, a survey showed on Friday.

The Department of the Environment's annual survey of Attitudes and Behaviours in relation to the environment also suggested that while older people were pessimistic about the climate's future, the younger generation were less concerned.

"Government is determined to make it possible for people to choose greener lifestyles and to provide advice and encouragement through our Act on CO2 campaign," said Environment Minister Joan Ruddock.

The survey comes days after the government said it may consider deeper reductions to its current carbon emissions target, which aims to cut them by at least 60 percent by 2050.

The survey, the sixth since 1986, found that six out of 10 people said they knew a lot or a fair amount about climate change and many were willing to do something to help. But nearly half declared they would not make changes that impinged on their lifestyles and less than three in 10 said they had switched to using a more fuel-efficient car, cut car usage or taken fewer flights.

Contradictory responses also came through in a question on satisfaction with lifestyle, with nearly half replying they were doing enough to help the environment and only 40 percent prepared to do a bit more.

Most people claimed that being ‘green’ is now the socially acceptable norm rather being an alternative lifestyle. A survey into public attitudes and behaviours has also found that guilt about harming the environment is the main motivation for being environmentally friendly.

The 2007 Survey of Public Attitudes and Behaviour toward the Environment is the sixth in a series of surveys that Defra and its predecessors have conducted since 1986.

Of the 3,600 people in England surveyed, when asked about waste 87% said they give away things they no longer want to charity shops or friends and family, and 78% said they sometimes reuse empty bottles, jars, envelopes and paper. Many respondents agreed they do try to influence others to be more environmentally friendly, with a third saying they talk to friends and family about things they can do to change their behaviour.

Environment Minister, Joan Ruddock said: “The most encouraging finding in this survey is the majority of people believing that its up to individuals to accept responsibility by making lifestyle changes. This is vitally important as 40% of climate change emissions come from our actions as individuals.

“Government is determined to make it possible for people to choose greener lifestyles and to provide advice and encouragement through our Act on CO2 campaign.”


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