2 Aug 11

EDF Energy releases findings of second annual pan-European Low Energy Alternative Future Index (LEAF)

Europe picks up the pace in the race against climate change

EDF Energy releases findings of second annual pan-European Low Energy Alternative Future Index (LEAF)

Study of attitudes to sustainability suggests increase in concern about climate change across Europe

UK sustainability score improves but not at rate of other countries

Summary of results:

Every country shows improvements since last year’s report, but the UK slips from sixth to joint eighth place in European survey on attitudes to sustainability

Turkey tops the LEAF Index, climbing from third place last year, with three-quarters (75%) of those surveyed expressing concern about climate change

81% of British respondents said that they have already made some changes to their lifestyle to be "greener", the same result as the 2010 survey

Sweden and Germany make leaps up the table, but the Netherlands remain in the lowest position, where only 69% of respondents have made changes in an effort to be "greener"

Respondents across Europe agree that financial incentives and physical tools are key to helping them reduce their energy usage.



LEAF Factor 2011

LEAF Factor 2010









































Britain will need to run faster to keep up with the race against climate change in the run-up to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London, according to a study by researchers from Imperial College London commissioned by EDF Energy, the first sustainability partner of London 2012. edfenergy.com

The Low Energy Alternative Future (LEAF) Index, now in its second year, asked 5,511 respondents across Europe for their views on sustainability and low energy living. The data was then analysed by Imperial College London’s Energy Futures Lab, led by Professor Nigel Brandon, and countries were ranked on their positive attitudes to sustainability issues. As first Sustainability Partner of the London 2012 Games, EDF Energy commissioned the study to gauge attitudes towards energy saving in the year before Britain powers the Olympics.

Across Europe, researchers found that Turkey’s leap to first place this year has been due to a rise in awareness of climate change, with the proportion of those concerned about it rising from half (48%) to three-quarters (75%) and only 8% doubting its existence. The country making the biggest gain in this year’s LEAF Index was Sweden, rising 4.8 points, followed closely by Germany’s gain of 4.4 points; the UK fell behind with an increase of 1.8 points.

Among the countries surveyed, over half (58%) of people said that they are concerned about climate change, with varying responses in different areas. Turkey, Spain and France showed a high amount of concern, with over 70% of respondents expressing concern, but 10th-placed Netherlands showed that three-quarters of people rate their concern over climate change as "only a little" or "not at all".

As we pass the one year to go milestone ahead of the Olympic Games, Britons have shown a willingness to take action against climate change. 89% of UK survey respondents said that they are willing to make changes to save energy in their daily lives if given the right incentives. 71% of UK respondents stated that financial support would help them most, and over half (51%) would be encouraged by physical tools like smart meters.

Commenting on the results, Gareth Wynn, Director of London 2012, EDF, said: "We are now just over one year away from the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, when the attention of the world will turn to the UK. This represents a huge opportunity to demonstrate that we are making real progress when it comes to living in a more sustainable way. It’s therefore encouraging that this year’s LEAF Index shows that eight out of ten Britons have already made some change to live a "greener" lifestyle. In 2009 EDF Energy founded Team Green Britain to help people work together to tackle climate change ahead of the Games and we’ve certainly had a positive response - the community is now comprised of over a million members.

"However, as the results have shown this year, there is always more that can be done. Britons will need to continue in their efforts to be green in order to keep up with the very positive pace of change we’re seeing across Europe in the research. As Britain’s largest producer of low carbon electricity, EDF Energy is committed to realising our lower carbon vision for the UK".

Professor Nigel Brandon, Director of the Energy Futures Lab at Imperial College London, said that he was pleased to see the overall progress made since last year, adding: "This year’s study, the second to be commissioned by EDF Energy, has drawn up some very interesting patterns in behaviour and attitudes towards the environment across Europe and shown very strong consistency in its results. Whilst some countries inevitably perform better than others, the great finding this year has been that all countries have improved since we last carried out the research; a very positive sign indeed. All that remains is for those countries towards the bottom end of the table and Britain in particular, to take those steps necessary to catch up with the leaders."

Additional findings

In the home:

As use of leisure appliances contribute to our overall residential emissions (which make up 29% of our total carbon emissions), the study investigated who were the main users of TVs, games consoles and computers in each household.1 Surprisingly, the UK’s major users of ‘leisure’ electrical appliances (i.e. televisions, computers and games consoles) were fathers - not teenagers as many would expect. In fact, respondents said teenagers and children under 13 were the least likely to be found using these gadgets. Nearly one-fifth (23%) of respondents said that sons or other males aged over 20 that aren’t parents themselves were the major leisure appliance users in the home, with a further 12% saying the biggest user in their home was a daughter or other women over 20 that aren’t mums.


Dietary habits and meat consumption are key to a country’s eco-friendliness, as meat production has a higher climate impact than other food types with livestock accounting for around 18% of greenhouse gas emissions.2. According to recent research (2005-2007), Switzerland emerges as the most carnivorous country, with 14.1% of respondents’ daily calories coming from meat; in the UK this drops to 13.7%. In terms of overall consumption, Italy emerged as the nation with the biggest appetite, consuming an average 3657 calories per

1 DECC UK climate change sustainable development indicator, March 2011

2 http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000448/index.html person per day and Swedes had the lightest diets, consuming 3116 calories each per day. Britons were the fifth most greedy, consuming 3442 calories per person per day. 3

3 Source: FAO Statistical Yearbook 2010, Table D.1, 2005‐2007 data, Table D.2 for % meat


Of all sectors analysed by the LEAF Index, only the transport sector shows a decline in results since last year, showing a worrying shift to more polluting means of travelling, particularly in countries such as Turkey, Sweden and the Netherlands. The surveyed countries showed that the most common method of commuting continues to be by car (50% for the UK). EDF Energy aims to encourage everyone to reduce their carbon footprint by opting for low carbon means of transport; the recent Team Green Britain Bike Week, supported by EDF Energy offered free bike fixing workshops across the country to help people get back onto two wheels. More information about lower carbon forms of transport can be found at www.teamgreenbritain.org.

ICM interviewed a random sample of 5,511 adults aged 18 to 64. Interviews were conducted online in 10 countries between 24th of May to 3rd of June 2011, with 1000 interviews in the UK and 500 in all other countries. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at www.icmresearch.com

Notes to Editors

About the LEAF Factor

Answers to a set of 16 questions were ranked according to which is "best" for reducing its impact on the environment. For example, if a respondent indicates they are "not at all concerned" about climate change, this would attract the lowest mark for that category. Alternatively, if a respondent says that they have made "major changes to their lifestyle" as a result of concern about climate change, this would attract a very high mark. All possible responses are for each question are on a linear scale between the most edfenergy.com

negative (zero) and most positive (one) response. The only factor of importance that is not drawn from the survey data relates to food consumption; where countries that consume more, and have a higher portion of meat in their diets, score the lowest marks (and vice-versa).

The country-wide average response to each question is then weighted according to the importance of that particular question in terms of climate change. For example, how frequently a respondent takes "global" flights is deemed to be quite important, as is whether or not the respondent believes "climate change is happening and radical action should be taken now". At the other end of the spectrum, how frequently a respondent uses, for example, hair straighteners has a low weighting because it has less impact on carbon emissions and therefore climate change.

Finally, the LEAF score is calculated by finding the product of each question-weighting combination, and then summing these for each country. The resulting number is divided by the "perfect" score, and then multiplied by 100, to arrive at the LEAF factor (a number between 0 and 100). As such, the LEAF factor is designed so that a perfect country would score 100, and an environmentally unfriendly country would score zero.