People "should be scared" about global warming - and be ready to take action to help tackle the problem, says Environment Secretary David Miliband.
Mr Miliband is due to announce new wind farms
Mr Miliband told the BBC people were more aware as they recognise "something funny is going on with the weather".
He said people would be willing to play their part as long as government did.
Mr Miliband later said the government was putting £10m into a scheme to boost use of renewable energy, particularly wind power.
He said the scheme, run by the Carbon Trust, planned to generate enough renewable energy to serve the houses of Exeter, Oxford, Norwich and Newcastle combined.
"The Carbon Trust has shown how plans for renewable installations, mainly wind power, on the land of local authorities and hospitals can be held back because public and private investment are not working together," he said.
"Our investment of £10m has the potential to unlock up to half a billion pounds in private investment, produce 500 megawatts of renewable electricity for public sector organisations to use themselves or to deliver to homes and businesses around the country."
Mr Miliband's announcement was welcomed by the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA). They described the scheme as the "missing link" in the relationship between the public sector and the renewables industry.
BWEA chief executive Maria McCaffery said: "This will be welcome news to our members working in onshore wind who are leading the way in delivering the government targets for renewable energy by 2010.
"There are many good examples of wind energy already developed on public sector land, at schools, hospitals and council buildings," she said, "and Partnerships for Renewables, aided by Defra's support, will catalyse further development of this exciting new sector."
Earlier, Mr Miliband told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that if a million people switched to low-energy light bulbs, the effect would be the same as taking 70,000 cars off Britain's roads.
He said he wanted to give incentives to power companies to encourage householders to switch to greater energy efficiency.
The former Downing Street policy chief was given the environment brief in May's reshuffle.
He said he had thought he had been well-informed about climate change but had quickly been shocked by what he had learned since taking on the job.
"We should be quite scared - I'm more scared than I was five months ago but I'm also more hopeful," he said.
He said the technology to produce carbon-free fuel was now in place and had to be rolled out on a "mass scale".
"People say there should be a debate about global warming. But I tell you the debate is over; the reckoning has begun. The truth is staring us in the face. Climate change is here, in our country; it is an issue for our generation as well as future generations; and those who deny it are the flat-earthers of the 21st century," he said.