Climate change remains top concern for UK public

15th October 2021


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Chris Seekings

Climate change remains one of the top issues most concerning the UK public, despite the economic turmoil experienced over the last 18 months, a poll commissioned by IEMA has found.

The survey of more than 2,000 adults found that the economy was worrying respondents most, cited by 64%, followed by climate change, on 60%. Crime was mentioned by 52%, and fuel shortages by 50%, with education, unemployment and housing all less concerning.

The research also highlighted the differences between younger and older people, with 62% of 18-24 year-olds rating climate change as a top concern, compared with 49% who mentioned the economy.

Furthermore, only 28% of respondents thought that the effects of climate change were irreversible.

Nearly three-quarters said that it was important to recognise the role of experts in tackling the issue, with the same number acknowledging the value of events such as COP26.

IEMA are now calling on the government to take urgent action to address the public’s concerns ahead of the crucial climate summit next month.

“Despite the economic turmoil in the last 18 months, this survey reveals the public are as concerned about climate change as they are the economy,” said Sarah Mukherjee, CEO of IEMA.

“We have an opportunity to put in place the policy measures and actions to ensure that global warming does not exceed 1.5 °C, and the time to act is now.

“The public is rightly concerned about climate change, and the government must do all it can to raise the ambition of world leaders at the Glasgow negotiations.”

Respondents to the survey, which was carried out by YouGov during the first week of this month, were also asked to select which one change they could make to their daily lives that would make a significant positive impact to the environment.

A quarter highlighted cutting waste to landfill, with 15% identifying reducing energy use at home, and 11% buying or leasing an electric car.

Finance-related changes such as choosing to invest in a greener pension or switching to a more ethical bank or building society were low priorities, cited by just 2% and 1%, respectively, while one in 10 did not know what change they could make as a positive impact.

Mukherjee added: “We have a duty to protect our planet, communities and livelihoods from any further destruction, and must take urgent action to reduce emissions.”

Image credit: Shutterstock


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