Survey: Most Brits more concerned about climate change than Brexit

Image: Campaign Against Climate Change

Carried out by agency ComRes and commissioned by Christian Aid, the survey asked 2,072 UK residents aged 18 and over which issues new Prime Minister Boris Johnson should prioritise during his first few months in office. People from all geographical regions and of all major religions were quizzed.

Of these respondents, 71% said that addressing climate change – both through mitigation and adaptation – will be more important in the long-term than the UK’s departure from the EU. And in the short-term, 66% ranked climate change as more important than Brexit.

This trend towards climate concern was found to be particularly pronounced among women, as well as residents from Wales and the East Midlands.

Moreover, almost two-thirds (61%) of respondents said the Conservative Government is not doing enough to prioritise climate actions, despite its recent setting of a net-zero goal for 2050. Key concerns voiced included a lack of policy around decarbonising transport and the fact that the UK is still financing fossil fuel projects abroad.

“It’s clear that beyond the present political turmoil, UK adults know there is a bigger crisis which is potentially catastrophic for the whole of humanity – particularly some of the world’s poorest people, who are more vulnerable to the effects of this climate emergency,” Christian Aid’s director of advocacy Laura Taylor said.

“I hope the Prime Minister will hear the challenge from the majority of the UK public to do more to tackle this climate emergency. We need a rapid and radical shift to reduce emissions in the UK and we need global action for climate justice in which the most vulnerable communities are supported to not only survive but to thrive.”

Growing pressure

Christian Aid’s findings echo those of a separate recent survey from global communications consultancy FleishmanHillard Fishburn (FHF), which concluded that climate change is now in the top three issues which consumers expect big businesses to take action on – up from 17th in 2018.

FHF surveyed 1,140 UK residents aged 18-65 and 160 UK-headquartered corporates across 20 industries for the study. A key finding was that corporate action on these public concerns has been slower than their proliferation among consumers. FHF concluded that 84% of the climate efforts disclosed by the businesses surveyed were not perceived by consumers as strong enough.

These pieces of research come amid a backdrop of #SchholStrikes4Climate and Extinction Rebellion demonstrations – two mass movements which suggest that public climate attitudes have radically shifted.

They also come as several parts of Europe are experiencing record temperatures for July, with the mercury having hit 42.6C in Paris on Thursday (25 July). Experts at the Met Office say the current weather pattern is driving hot air from the south, but that there is “no doubt” climate change is playing a role.

It comes as no surprise, then, that green economy experts and members of the public alike are calling on Johnson and his new cabinet to prioritise climate change by bolstering the Government’s net-zero target with sector-specific frameworks. The further key asks made by edie readers include delivering a ‘Green’ Brexit, opposing the Heathrow expansion and rapidly decarbonising all forms of transport.

Sarah George

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie