At a recent BHEP climate change event to provide practical advice to businesses, attendees participated in a Q&A session designed to identify attitudes to climate change and potential future developments and legislation. The results reveal an appetite for change, but suggest that the "sticks" to encourage it may need to get much bigger.
Encouragingly, the exercise revealed that all the attendees who took part had already taken some steps to combat their carbon emissions with actions ranging from recycling and using low energy light bulbs to ditching their car and raising awareness at work. In addition, the results show that 54% of the attendees already have a written energy saving policy at work.
Questions designed to identify attitudes to potential future developments and legislation suggest that there would be overwhelming support for technological measures. 86% said they would support the removal of standby buttons from all electrical goods whilst 54% said they would support a system which meant that white goods, such as dishwashers and washing machines which use a lot of energy, could only run at night time to help even out peaks and troughs in energy demand.
Questions on the more emotive topics, the cost of a gallon of petrol, cost of a bag of rubbish, road tax and cost of a flight to Paris, elicited some interesting responses.
36% felt that the cost of a gallon of petrol would need to almost double from its current cost of £4.50 to £10 before it had a serious effect on people's transport choices, whilst 46% think that road tax will need to rise to at least £1,000 a year before people think twice about owning gas guzzlers.
22% said that a flight to Paris would have to cost £150 before they considered using other modes of transport, whilst 20% would pay up to £200. Currently, it is possible to get a return flight to Paris for as little as £30 suggesting that it will take at least a 5 fold increase in flight costs to encourage people to use more sustainable means.
A "pay-as-you-throw" system of collecting waste, to improve the UK's poor recycling record, is a serious contender for future waste legislation. However, whilst most of the respondents revealed that they are already recycling, 31% said they would not be prepared to pay anything for the collection of residual waste. On the other hand, 22% are prepared to pay £2.00-£3.00 per bag of rubbish, 15% are prepared to pay £1.00 per bag of rubbish and 13% are prepared to pay £5.
These results suggest that in order to get people to make changes not only will education and incentive schemes have to go hand in hand with "financial sticks" that hit people in the pockets, but these "sticks" may be more successful in motivating people to change their habits if there were radical increases in road tax, flight costs etc rather than small annual increments.
However, it would seem that attendees at the climate change event are open to new ideas when it comes to tackling climate change. 47% would support the introduction of an independent "Bank of Carbon" which would determine an annual CO2 emissions allowance for the UK, whilst 43% might support such a scheme.
Businesses can make a real contribution to action on climate change and save money by doing so. Many businesses in Brighton & Hove have already started to make changes. 40% of the businesses that attended the event already have carbon management measures in place and 33% intend to introduce measures in the very near future.
It doesn't have to be difficult, there is a wealth of free support and advice available to businesses interested in tackling climate change. To find out more log on to www.carbontrust.co.uk www.ecosys.org.uk or www.sussexenterprise.co.uk
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