According to new research released to coincide with the launch of the Climate Week Awards, nearly 1 in 5 Brits do not act on climate change because they don’t believe others are doing their bit to save the planet, prompting renowned sociologist and eco expert Lord Professor Anthony Giddens to speak out about how communities influence environmentally responsible behaviour.
While the majority of people believe the science behind climate change, the research also points to a worrying 15% of the population unwilling to change their behaviour based on the facts alone. It is amongst this group that personal influence from friends, family, media and celebrities is critical in encouraging action to save the planet.
The research shows that those people closest to us are most likely to inspire us to take action to save the planet – if only because they nag us! One in 10 climate cynics agree that they’d do more if their friends or neighbours demonstrated a bigger commitment to saving the planet.
This is particularly true of men, who would appear to be willing to go green for a quiet life. They are most likely to be influenced by those who nag them (69%). Women, on the other hand, are most likely to follow advice from people they see as experts (64%).
Partners have the greatest influence over the decisions we make (58%) – more than 25 times greater than neighbours at 2%. Perhaps inevitably in a world where extended families live more separate lives, friends (41%) have more influence than parents (36%).
Those who are most influenced by friends said this was because they didn’t want to be the odd one out (84%) and even climate sceptics are swayed by wanting to fit in with the crowd.
Despite the climate cynics out there, the research revealed a genuine appetite to act on climate change – with four out of five people motivated to take action and the same number believing one person can make a difference.
Commenting on the findings, sociologist and eco expert Prof Tony Giddens said: “The more we see other people being eco friendly – whether it’s the celebrities we follow or our friends and neighbours, the more likely we are to join in. Human beings are pack animals and we don’t like to be the odd one out.
“We’re also susceptible to pester power from our nearest and dearest, which means we all have the ability to inspire action from others. Climate change is the biggest threat the world has ever faced and we need to all use our influence to persuade our friends and family to take action.”
The Climate Week Awards will celebrate the greenest businesses, communities and people in the UK – and their influence on those around them. Kevin Steele, CEO for Climate Week said: “There are hundreds of people across the UK who are changing hearts and minds. The Climate Week Awards give everyone the chance to show what they’re doing to make a difference and share their great ideas with others. From young people who’ve done amazing things, to innovative companies and jaw-dropping technology, these awards will reward the best and the greenest ideas and bring them to public attention.
“And those who aren’t up for entering an award can still get involved by voting for their own Climate Week Hero – the person they think has done the most to tackle climate change and make the world a greener place.”