Public Perceptions: Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The Institution commissioned research into public understanding of the sources of greenhouse gas emissions and attitudes towards Government policy to reduce pollution from road transport.

The poll focused in particular on knowledge about the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars which has been brought forward to 2030 as well as views about electric vehicles.

The Government has adopted a target of net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases in the UK by 2050.

To meet this target, people will have to make changes in their lifestyles, and we wanted to find out how aware the public is about this and their views on the best way to reduce emissions. Transport and housing are some of the main areas where changes will need to be made.

Key findings included:

  • The public has little awareness of the contribution of home heating to UK emissions. Just 15% of people listed central heating as a top source of emissions.
  • People overestimate the contribution of aviation to transport emissions. Seventy percent of people listed it in the top three sources in the transport sector compared with 64% mentioning road transport.
  • The steps people say they could take which would have most impact on reducing emissions are flying (32%) and driving less (34%).
  • There is broad support for the ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles, with 43% of people backing the policy.
  • Range anxiety and cost are the main concerns regarding electric vehicles. On behalf of the Institution, ICM Unlimited asked eight questions to a nationally representative sample of 2011 people across Great Britain in December 2020.


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