A recent Ipso Mori survey finds that people have become noticeably more concerned in the past year after a string of extreme weather events. The survey also finds that while people are in favour of drastic measures to help the country become net zero by 2050 in theory – when they realise the cost and potential inconvenience it could give them personally support drops off rapidly. Tom Bawden discusses the survey results in an article on the inews website.
Climate change: UK public more worried than ever about global warming, but still doesn’t want to pay to fix it
The UK public is considerably more concerned by climate change than it was even a year ago, following a string of wildfires, storms and other extreme events around the world this year, a new survey shows.
Some 83 per cent of the public are worried about climate change – with 45 per cent being extremely or very worried, according to a study of 5,665 people by Ipsos MORI and the Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations (CAST).
In 2020, 76 per cent were ‘worried‘ while 39 per cent were very/extremely worried, while in 2016 60 per cent were worried and 25 per cent extremely worried, according to previous polls in the series.
Professor Lorraine Whitmarsh, of the University of Bath and a director of CAST, said that, in many ways, people’s behaviour has become greener since the pandemic, as growing fears about climate change combined with lifestyle changes forced upon us by Covid.
These include working from home, which reduces travel and food waste and greater uptake of lower-carbon hobbies and activities, such as oline socialising and gardening. And it looks like, in some cases at less, some of that behavioural change will stick, she says.
“Tracking the impact of Covid on people’s lifestyle – it provided an opportunity for people to do lower carbon things. Working from home involves less travel. And people are preparing food from scratch more, reducing food waste,” she said.
“Because they are spending more time at home, they’re more conscious of what’s in the fridge and when it’s going off and they’re having their lunch at home, so they’re able to use up their leftovers more.
“Spending more time at home saw leisure activities changing. People are spending more time socialising online and doing more creative hobbies and gardening – which have a lower carbon footprint and might even be beneficial.”
Prof Whitmash added: “We asked if people want to continue and most say they want to retain at least some of the things that they started doing – most saying I’d rather work from home at least some of the week through to ‘I’ve got a new found appreciation for gardening or cooking’. This was forced on us but a lot of people are glad they tried it.”
The survey also finds that while people are in favour of drastic measures to help the country become net zero by 2050 in theory – when they realise the cost and potential inconvenience it could give them personally support drops off rapidly.
It finds that a majority of the UK public support seven out of eight key net zero policies, in principle, while opposing increased taxes on meat and diary.
But a followup question asking them to consider making personal sacrifices, such as not being able to take a flight or missing out on a favourite food because it was wrapped in single-use plastic, found only one measure had majority support – charging more for environmentally-damaging products and services.
“This research shows that people are very worried about climate change and they are broadly supportive of implementing policies to tackle the issue. However, people struggle to accept the personal impact policies may have on them,” said Kelly Beaver, of Ipsos MORI.
Professor Lorraine Whitmarsh, of Bath University and a director of CAST, added: “This provides further evidence that the UK public want urgent action on climate change, but may not yet be fully aware of the implications for individuals of doing so.”
In principle, frequent flier levies receive the highest levels of support at 68 per cent – but this falls to just 32 per cent once the personal implications of such a move have been contemplated. Meanwhile, 62 per cent support phasing out the sale of gas and coal boilers, in principle – falling to just 17 per cent when the personal implications are factored in.
Increased vegetarian and vegan options on menus is supported by 56 per cent – falling to 26 per cent, on the prospect of less meat and dairy choice – while creating low traffic neighbourhoods fell from 53 to 18 per cent, when costs and inconvenience are factored in.