Scottish Government
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Survey on environmental attitudes

The environment is as important a global issue as the economy, according to a new survey of people living in Scotland.

Despite the economic downturn, around a third of people think the environment is one of the most important issues facing the world - with the same number mentioning the economy.

When questioned about issues of importance to Scotland, however, three times as many people mentioned the economy as the environment, highlighting the need for people to 'think global, act local'.

The Scottish Environmental Attitudes and Behaviours Survey (SEABS), which questioned over 3,000 people, shows that awareness of environmental issues is high and that some greener behaviours are becoming commonplace.

But there is still some way to go to tackle stubborn issues like travel habits and more to do to make people realise that their own behaviour can make the world a greener place.

Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham said:

"We need to do more to get people to see the environment as a local issue. Many people see climate change as a global problem but not as an issue affecting Scotland or their communities. But milder winters and more floods mean the evidence is now on our doorstep and can no longer be ignored.

"People have to realise that they are a fundamental part of the environment. Just as we impact on it, it has an impact on us. Our own behaviour makes a real difference and the good news is that greener behaviour not only helps save the planet it helps save us money too."

The main findings of the survey are:

  • thirty-five per cent of people think the environment is one of the most important issues facing the world, on a par with the the economy
  • some greener behaviours are becoming common place: most of the time, 79 per cent hang up their washing to dry and 63 per cent use energy saving light bulbs; 67 per cent rarely or never leave light on in a room; 76 per cent make use of kerbside paper recycling, where available, every time
  • driving is still the most common mode of transport for commuting and grocery shopping, while about half of people don't turn their heating off when they go out or turn their tap off when brushing their teeth
  • the main barriers to green behaviour are cost, convenience, a lack of alternative options and practical considerations
  • a significant minority don't think they can make a difference, with a third of respondents saying they think their own behaviour and lifestyle do not contribute to climate change.

Ms Cunningham added:

"The timing of these results could not be better for a new Environment Minister - it gives me a clear picture of where we are and what more we need to do.

"There is much to be positive about. There are high levels of environmental awareness and many greener behaviours are now part of people's daily lives. However, some behaviours remain stubborn, most notably driving to work and the shops."

The Scottish Environmental Attitudes and Behaviours Survey (SEABS) 2008 was carried out on behalf of the Scottish Government by Ipsos MORI. The survey is based on a quota sample of the Scottish adult population (aged 16 and above), with the total number of interviews achieved being 3,054. The results are based on face-to-face interviews which took place between 18 August and 15 November 2008 (inclusive).

The aim of the survey was to produce dedicated, sound and up-to-date data to support the development and delivery of environmental policy.

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