Survey: Majority of Brits want ‘urgent’ policy action on climate change

The survey was carried out on 4 June 

Carried out by environmental groups The Climate Coalition and Greener UK earlier this month, the survey asked 2,009 adults who live in the UK for their views on policy, business and collective action on a range of environmental issues.

Almost seven in ten of the respondents (69%) said they would urge Ministers to take “urgent political action” on the climate crisis, with 71% saying that part of the responsibility for this also lies with their own MP.

Although the research was carried out before the Government confirmed its commitment to a net-zero target for 2050, two-thirds of respondents said they believed that national emissions should be cut to zero by mid-century.

“The Government’s decision to set a net-zero target in law was clearly a response to calls for action from voters which have grown louder and louder in recent months,” The Climate Coalition’s campaigns director Clara Goldsmith said.

“Now we need our politicians to put policies in place to deliver on that target, as well as measures to clean up the air we breathe and the plastic in our seas.”

According to the survey results, the majority of people view the new Environment Bill as a key facet of these supporting policies. Two-thirds of respondents said that the Bill should be passed “urgently” and that all targets should be legally binding.

The Environment Bill was first confirmed by Theresa May last summer and was published in draft form in December. The draft version was the first framework to set out the powers and limitations of the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) – the UK’s new post-Brexit watchdog for green standards.

While Environment Secretary Michael Gove has argued that these factors will make the OEP “world-leading”, the Environmental Audit Committee has claimed that the document is “lacking coherence” and leaves “many Governmental departments exempt” from environmental responsibilities.

Changing conversations

The publication of the survey by Greener UK and The Climate Coalition comes amid a backdrop of school strikes for climate, Extinction Rebellion protests and increasing media coverage of environmental issues.

These trends, coupled by policy decisions such as Parliament’s declaration of a ‘Climate Emergency’ and its commitment to a net-zero goal, are placing the onus on business leaders and Ministers to go further, and faster, with their actions on environmental sustainability.

Indeed, a recent survey of 2,000 UK adults carried out by Barclays found that 45% have switched at least one product or service they use to an alternative from a business with a better track record on climate change. Moreover, seven in ten said that their employer or prospective employer’s green credentials were a key consideration when choosing jobs.

These changing consumer demands can be seen most clearly through the rising number of demonstrations taking place in London and other cities across the UK . The Climate Coalition and Greener UK are using their joint research to launch a further mass lobby, called The Time is Now. Taking place at Parliament on 26 June, the event will see more than 14,000 members of the public descend on Westminster, along with representatives from the 130+ organisations represented by the two groups. These include the likes of WWF, Friends of the Earth, CAFOD, Christian Aid and the National Trust.

Sarah George

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