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British public 'would back a pollution tax'

British public 'would back a pollution tax'

British public 'would back a pollution tax'

The majority of British citizens believe that big businesses should be taxed for failing to take their environmental responsibilities seriously, according to a new poll.

Acting on behalf of construction and support services company Interserve, Ipsos Mori asked more than 2,000 Britons to share their opinions on the private sector's contribution to climate change.

British public would back pollution tax

The market research firm found that over three-quarters of respondents would back "fiscal intervention" on the part of government to protect the environment from resource-hungry big businesses - measures that might include a so-called 'pollution tax', Business Green reports.

This was consistent with the UK public's belief that large organisations are typically irresponsible when it comes to operating in an environmentally sustainable way, with just one in three respondents describing these companies' attitudes to green issues as "responsible".

Furthermore, as few as one in seven Britons were of the opinion that their own employers were committed to reducing their carbon footprints and to tackling climate change.

The results of the Ipsos Mori poll also suggest that in time, this anti-business sentiment might impact companies' bottom lines. While most respondents felt the government should take responsibility for keeping the UK green, some 13 per cent added that they would "definitely consider" boycotting an organisation if it were found not to have taken its environmental responsibilities seriously.

A spokesperson for Interserve commented: "Large businesses should be able to demonstrate a commitment to environmental sustainability ... businesses that demonstrate these sort of credentials will be rewarded both by the public and their own employees, as well as being viewed in a more trustworthy light."

He went on: "Environmental policies are increasingly being integrated into companies' business models, due to ever-growing recognition that sustainable business practices need not hinder financial performance, but can in fact enhance it."

The role of government intervention

Ipsos Mori's poll comes as the UK government ramps up efforts to make big businesses aware of its new Energy Saving Opportunities Scheme (ESOS) - a compulsory programme under which organisations with more than 250 employees or £40-plus million in annual turnover are required to regularly audit their power consumption and find ways to improve their environmental performance.

However, with the December 5th deadline for the first round of audits less than ten months away, a handful of industry surveys have inferred that knowledge and understanding of the scheme is still too low to deliver universal compliance. An npower study last month found that as many as 49 per cent of Britain's manufacturers are not aware of their new obligations under ESOS.

Furthermore, businesses are not actually required to act on the energy saving opportunities they identify as part of the scheme. According to research carried out by Inenco in October 2014, just 41 per cent of organisations will go on to implement the recommendations from their ESOS audit following this December's deadline.

Speaking to edie.net last week (February 20th), the scheme's project manager Jo Scully acknowledged these concerns but went on to claim that the programme "pushes the awareness of energy management up the agenda".

"ESOS will undoubtedly save businesses money, if those businesses are willing to act on the energy efficiency improvements that are identified," she said.

Posted by Julie Tucker

Image courtesy of Thinkstock