Broad public support for climate change measures, says UK government report

Strong support for renewable energy and a desire for more information on the expected economic impacts of climate change are among the findings of the UK government's public consultation on climate change. The Government will publish its draft climate change programme by the end of the year.

More than 600 written responses were received – from members of the public, representative groups, businesses, public sector organisations and others. The areas generating the greatest number of responses were energy, transport and business.

The summary identifies several “main messages” that have emerged from the consultation. They include:

  • respondents would like more information on the cost, benefits and level of carbon savings offered by each climate change policy option
  • some agreement that greenhouse gas emission cuts represent an opportunity to business and that the business sector should take a positive approach
  • some desire for post-2012 plans
  • a multi-sector approach to emissions reduction is preferable, with business keen to emphasis that it should not carry an unfair share of the Kyoto target
  • need for central government to outline local authorities’ responsibilities and options
  • some disappointment that the Government consultation paper did not discuss the necessity of adapting to the unavoidable impacts of climate change
  • broad agreement that the general public needs to become more aware of climate change and the need to conserve energy
  • disagreement regarding the UK domestic goal to cut CO² emissions by 20% by 2010, a figure that goes beyond the UK’s Kyoto target
  • disagreement on carbon and energy taxes with business generally against such taxes
  • belief that there is a great deal of scope for more efficient use of energy, particularly by households and small businesses
  • support for renewable energy, but concern that the goal of 10% of UK electricity by 2010 would not be achieved unless there are changes to the planning system as well as additional investment
  • support for the reformation of intensive farming methods and the expansion of the area under forest.

At the Kyoto 1997 summit, the UK accepted a 12.5% overall reduction target in the emissions of six greenhouse gases by 2012. The gases are:

  • carbon dioxide
  • methane
  • nitrous oxide
  • hydrofluorocarbons
  • perfluorocarbons
  • sulphur hexafluoride.

The consultation summary provides details of how different respondent groups differed in their opinions, as well as some comment on the specific perspectives of Scottish, Welsh and North Irish respondents.

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