Climate change concerns hit record levels

23rd August 2019


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The UK public is more worried about climate change than ever before, and most citizens want the government to bring forward its target for net zero emissions.

That is according to a recent poll of over 1,000 adults, which found that 85% are concerned about climate change, with 52% describing themselves as “very concerned“.

These are the highest levels recorded by Ipsos MORI since the research company started tracking the concern in 2005, and the first time that a majority registered as very concerned.

The polling also found that 55% of adults think that the UK should achieve net zero emissions before the 2050 target announced by the government earlier this year.

Ipsos MORI's head of energy and environment research, Antonia Dickman, said that the recent school climate strikes and Extinction Rebellion could be partly responsible for the findings.

“Public opinion is rebuilding in strength, and the record summer temperatures across the UK might also be contributing to an increasing sense that our country is already feeling the effects of climate change,“ she added.

The previous record for climate change worries was in 2005 when 82% of adults registered a concern, however, this fell to just 60% in 2013.

How attitudes have changed since 2005 is shown below:

Nearly three in four British adults now say that the country is feeling the effects of climate change, with concern particularly high among the middle and higher classes.

It also divides along party lines, with around three in five Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters saying they are very concerned, compared to two in five Conservative supporters.

Partisan differences also show that 70% of Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters think the UK should achieve net zero emissions more quickly than by 2050, compared to 37% of Conservative supporters.

“In 2005/6 we saw a peak in concern about the environment, reflecting the prominence of media reporting around Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth, the Kyoto Protocol coming into effect and the Stern Report,“ Dickman said.

“But climate fatigue appeared to set in, particularly in the aftermath of the economic crash when it struggled to compete for public consciousness. Recently though, concern has been creeping up again.“

Image credit: iStock

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