The government needs to take a lead on climate change but not use green taxes as an excuse to "raid people's pockets", David Cameron has said.
Mr Cameron admitted he could do more to combat climate change
The Tory leader told Sky News it had been a mistake to raise air passenger duty, but not reduce taxes elsewhere.
He said that would "sap people's faith" in the government's green agenda, just as it needed to lead a "cultural change" in public attitudes.
Tony Blair has been attacked for saying he would not give up long-haul flights.
In an interview on Tuesday, the prime minister said he would not give up flying and said it was "impractical" to ask people to stop flying.
But Mr Cameron told Sky News a cultural change was needed to persuade everyone to play their part.
"What you need is people to change their view about the environment and to change their behaviour, and I think that starts at the top," he said.
He said the government needed to implement annual targets for reducing CO2 emissions - something Mr Blair has resisted - and take an annual carbon report as seriously as the annual budget.
"So there's cultural change at the top, and then it's got to go all the way through," he said.
"You want businesses to be competing with each other for actually who can have the best green reputation, who can get their energy bills down the most and be the most competitive."
He said schools should be teaching about the environment, while councils should be competing to see who can build the greenest housing schemes.
But he said people were right to think that the £5 rise in air passenger duty from February, without reductions elsewhere, was being used to "get a bit more money".
"The better way to do it is to put up green taxes but to relieve taxes elsewhere and say: 'Look, we're doing this for the good of the environment'.
"Then I think we'd take people with us."
Mr Blair warned against putting people off the 'green agenda'
He said everyone had to take action, not just the government - but admitted there was still more he could do in his own properties.
"There are lots of things we do that we could do better and I am the first to say that," he said.
On Tuesday one of Mr Blair's own advisers criticised his "muddle-headed" leadership on climate change.
It followed Mr Blair's remarks that he would not give up flying, doubted any politician would tell people not to fly, and questioned the impact of UK-only climate action.
"I'm not going to be in the situation of saying I'm not going to take holidays abroad or use air-travel. It's just not practical," he said.
No 10 later said Mr Blair would offset emissions from his holiday flights.