‘Green gap’ as two-thirds want to tackle climate change – but don’t want to pay for it

Nearly two thirds of UK consumers say they are willing to cut their carbon footprint – but not if it means spending their own money on it.

New research shows older age groups are particularly resistant to investing their own cash in helping to save the planet, with 70 per cent of those aged between 55 and 64 saying they wouldn’t spend their own money for individual improvements such as solar panels or electric vehicles (EVs), compared with 63 per cent across all ages and 57 per cent of younger people aged 18 to 24.

The survey, conducted by green digital bank Tandem, shows that Britons are worried about the rapidly changing climate but are reluctant to fork out for improvements in the midst of a cost of living crisis.

This disparity between attitudes and reality is set out in a new quarterly index from the bank, called The Green Gap.

Worryingly, half of all people (50 per cent) believe they are already doing enough to reduce their environmental impact, showing a major gap between the change needed to achieve net zero and current behaviours.

Men are more likely to feel they are doing enough (54 per cent) compared with women (47 per cent). In addition, women (72 per cent) appear more likely than men (68 per cent) to feel climate change is an issue that urgently needs to be tackled. Women are also much more likely to want to learn more about what they should be doing.

Alex Mollart, chief executive of Tandem, said: “Our new research confirms that people are concerned about the future of our planet, but there is less understanding about what specific action is being taken – and how that is changing over time.

“It is clear the financial pressures everyone faces every day present a real obstacle to changing behaviour for many people.”

Key findings from the first publication of The Green Gap show 70 per cent of Britons agree climate change should be treated as an urgent problem and a similar number think financial incentives would boost uptake of green measures

However, it means almost one third remain unconvinced or unsure of the need for urgent action. Those living in rural areas (64 per cent) in particular are less likely to think climate change should be addressed urgently than those living in urban areas (74 per cent) – with similar responses when asked whether climate change is an issue of concern.

Half of consumers (49 per cent) don’t know their home’s EPC rating and 58 per cent do not have smart meters.

The fieldwork was conducted online by Survation between 30 September and 3 October with a sample of 2,080 UK adults (18+). Data is weighted to the profile of adults in the United Kingdom, as well as population by age, gender and region, with corresponding targets derived from the Office for National Statistics’ data.