Most Brits Willing to Pay to Save the Planet

Most people in the UK would accept new taxes on goods and services that damage the environment, according to a Guardian/ICM poll which reveals a widespread willingness to make personal sacrifices to tackle the threat of climate change. Some 63% said they approved of a green tax to discourage behaviour that harms the environment, while 34% said they would not accept such price rises. About a third of the UK's greenhouse gas pollution comes from domestic heating, and the poll reveals that people would be willing to spend an average of £331 (nearly $600 US -- about the price of this solar starter kit) to make their homes more environmentally friendly, even if the investment never paid for itself. Only 16% said they would not pay anything; 32% were willing to invest over £100 and 8% more than £1,000. More than half (51%) said they or their family had boycotted a company because its products damage the environment.The poll suggest that voters do not share Prime Minister Tony Blair's assertion that policies to help the economy grow should take precedent over those to address climate change. Asked which two areas should be priorities for the government, 28% highlighted action to tackle climate change and 16% wanted the economy to grow faster. The signal from those aged 18-24 was clearer: 35% picked climate change and 9% the economy.

The poll also suggests that people believe that small changes in their domestic lives can make a difference: 83% said they or their family had turned the television off instead of leaving it on standby to protect the environment. Some 82% of households said they had turned the central heating down, 75% had installed low-energy lightbulbs, 25% had bicycled at least one journey instead of using the car and 24% said they had decided against a vacation that involved air travel. Further, 92% said they recycled as much as possible, while 38% said they were likely to install solar panels, and 28% a wind turbine. Almost three-quarters (73%) said they would upgrade their home insulation. The poll was conducted by ICM, a UK market research and data-processing company, who interviewed a random sample of 1,002 adults over age 18 by telephone between February 17 and 19. ::ICM poll via tipster Carl and ::The Guardian