Findings by Ipsos Mori show Britons believe that the issue is not as bad as the scientists and politicians claim.
There is also scepticism about "greenspin" and a feeling that the situation is being overstated in order to raise revenue rather than save the planet.
In fact climate change is not a priority for most people in the UK - terrorism, crime, graffiti and even dog mess are of more concern.
Ipsos Mori interviewed 2,031 adults in their homes between June 14 and 20, and found that 56% believe scientists themselves are still questioning climate change and believe there is a live debate going on, when in fact there is virtual scientific consensus.
Phil Downing, head of environmental research at Ipsos Mori, said: "Our research shows there is still a lot to do to win the public over on climate change and encourage low-carbon lifestyles.
"We are alive to climate change and very few people actually reject out of hand the idea the climate is changing or that humans have had at least some part to play in this.
"However, a significant number have many doubts about exactly how serious it really is and believe it has been over-hyped.
"They are influenced by the counter arguments which partly explains why 40% agree that the climate is too complex to model and 56% that many leading scientists still question if human activity is contributing to climate change. For this section of the public, then the debate is anything but over.
"On behaviour, we're taking some action, but only around the margins of our lifestyles and when it suits us - most of us remain fair weather environmentalists. We do care about the environment but we simply enjoy behaviours such as flying, driving and owning a plasma TV too much to countenance giving them up. The Government needs to find new ways to sell low-carbon lifestyles to the public and that any changes they make will be matched by others as part of a collective solution."