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Environmental Protection & Preservation

Consumer Awareness of Carbon Offsetting Yet to Translate Into Action

mycarbondebt has just released data from one of the UK's largest face-to-face consumer surveys to examine attitudes to carbon offsetting.

Almost 200 consumers were interviewed in London and Manchester, which highlighted big differences in consumer attitudes to climate change. Under 25s were almost three times more likely to have offset their carbon emissions than the 41-60 year olds and none of the over 60s had ever offset their carbon emissions.

It was also the under 25s who've already begun to adopt the lifestyle changes that would reduce their personal emissions. With almost a quarter more of the 41-60 age group's feelings based on aspirations opposed to direct action such as reducing personal travel and making better use of public transport.

"Perhaps the biggest disappointment is that despite all the current publicity consumers still don't consider themselves well informed about the impact of carbon emissions and how offsetting can help. Some age groups simply don't even feel the need to address the issue - which is particularly shocking amongst the elderly considering the impact this will have on their children's lives, " says Rhiannon Prothero the founder of

Part of the reason for this inaction was consumers' perception that some of the root causes of climate change, namely third world deforestation, emissions produced by commercial transport and power stations and industrial energy use are out of their direct control.

"We have a lot more education to do - both on how consumers can make changes to reduce their carbon footprint and how positive steps are being taken to start redressing the balance. Our main objective is to help consumers understand their personal environmental responsibility and how they can begin both to reduce their emissions and offset what they can't reduce," asserts Prothero.

In terms of ways to counteract the damage caused by carbon emissions just 4% disagreed on the value of planting trees and it's hoped the recent moves towards verification of offsetting schemes will encourage consumers to look beyond the physical transaction of offsetting to see where and how the investment is being made.

" will only deal with projects that demonstrate genuine additionality, are incremental to the Kyoto guidelines and deliver tangible community benefits in the third world. Given over 60% of respondents would be prepared to change their lifestyle to reduce their carbon footprint and almost half (46%) would be prepared pay to offset their carbon emissions we have a situation where the free market economy can deliver quicker and more effective results than Government policy if the recent hike in airport taxation is anything to go by," concludes Prothero.

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