Climate change remains top concern for UK public

30th September 2022

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Chris Seekings

Around three-quarters of UK adults are currently worried about climate change, making it the joint most concerning issue in the country, a survey by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has found.

The findings, published today, show that 76% of adults are “very” or “somewhat” worried about climate change, with the same proportion also concerned about the cost-of-living crisis.

Russia’s conflict with Ukraine, the environment, and new variants of COVID-19 complete the top five issues uncovered by the survey, which was carried out between 14 and 25 September.

The findings come after Liz Truss decided to lift a three-year ban on fracking in England, with reports also suggesting that the new PM will announce dozens of new North Sea oil and gas exploration licenses.

James Fotherby, policy adviser at Green Alliance, told Transform that the government should not let tackling the climate emergency be sidetracked by the cost-of-living crisis.

He continued: “Rather than view both crises as trade-offs, the government should look to shared solutions.

“Insulating Britain’s leaky homes and accelerating the transition to clean and cheap renewable energy like wind and solar, for example, will cut carbon emissions and permanently reduce household energy bills.”

The most concerning issues uncovered by the ONS survey are shown below:

A whopping 91% respondents said that their cost of living had increased in comparison to a year ago, while 73% reported an increase over the last month.

The main reasons for the rise over the past month were increases in the price of food, gas or electricity bills, and fuel, cited by 95%, 73% and 51%, respectively.

Around four in 10 adults who pay energy bills said they found it very or somewhat difficult to afford them in the latest period.

Despite these challenges, Friends of the Earth’s head of policy, Mike Childs, told Transform that it is “not surprising” that climate change remains a top concern for the UK public.

“Liz Truss must respond to these concerns by backtracking on proposals for fracking and new gas and oil extraction," he continued. "It’s our reliance on fossil fuels that lies at the heart of both the cost-of-living and climate crises, which is why action to tackle them simultaneously should be a top priority for this government.

“Ministers must instead give proper backing to cheap, popular and abundant homegrown renewables as well as investing in a nationwide street-by-street programme to insulate the UK’s heat-leaking homes and bring down sky-high bills.”

Image credit: Unsplash

Graph credit: ONS

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