Only 19% of British people claim to know exactly what COP21 is all about, new research has revealed. Furthermore, very few people in the UK were even aware of the climate change negotiations taking place this week, with only 34% of the British public saying they had heard of it.
The UN Climate Summit began on Monday (30 November) in Paris, where more than 190 world leaders have gathered to negotiate a legally-binding agreement on limiting global warming to 2C. More than 50,000 people marched through London on Sunday (29 November) to demand action against climate change on the eve of COP21, but despite this research has revealed the majority of people in Britain aren't aware of the details of the conference.
Despite not knowing about the conference, Britons remain extremely aware of issues relating to climate change. The research, conducted on behalf of SPIE, who specialise in multi-technical services in energy and communications, surveyed five European countries: France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK. It revealed that 94% of Britons have heard of energy efficiency, and that a further 90% of them were careful about reducing energy consumption in their homes.
Britons' lack of awareness on the climate change negotiations does not mean that they are not committed to cutting down their carbon footprint. More than 80% of the public said that the UK was lagging behind in progress on energy efficiency due to a lack of political will to make it a priority.
Europeans are committed to energy efficiency
George Adams, UK Energy & Engineering Director for SPIE, said: "Paris COP21 is the next and maybe last real opportunity at getting unanimous agreement from 195 parties on a long-term climate deal that will have significant implications for their economies and populations."
Adams called on world leaders to invest in the development of sustainable cities and to begin respecting natural resources. While he acknowledged that making the change will not be easy, he said that populations would gradually begin to shift their behaviour. SPIE's chairman and CEO Gauthier Louette said that the survey results had concluded that Europeans have a commitment to energy efficiency and that they have an optimism regarding the part that technology can play in this.
"The consequences of inaction would be dramatic and the price to pay would be high," Louette stressed. "And it would be all the more irresponsible because we can see that society's motivation and increasing awareness provide an excellent springboard for quick action to be taken in Europe."