A new survey by Ipsos MORI in the UK finds that the public is concerned about climate change but “far from convinced about the science or the Government’s green agenda.” A majority are concerned—30% “very concerned” and 47% “fairly concerned”—while 14% are “not very concerned” and 9% are “not at all concerned.”
The survey shows uncertainty and misunderstanding about the science and the potential impact. As many as 60% think that many scientific experts still question if humans are contributing to climate change—an increase from the 56% holding that view in the 2007 survey, and in contrast to the position reached by the Fourth Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2007). Almost half (42%) say they sometimes think climate change might not be as bad as people say.
Government faces a series of challenges to set out its climate change credential to the public. On the one hand there is strong support for Government to do more—68% back this. However, at the same time the public are cynical about the Government’s motivations and a majority (59%) think the Government is using the climate change agenda to raise taxes. The research also finds the public themselves caught in two minds: despite large numbers backing more Government action, two in five (41%) acknowledge that they are worried this might lead to restrictions on the things they want to do.
...The current economic pessimism is having an impact on concerns about the environment more broadly. Parallel data from the Ipsos MORI Political Monitor shows concern about the economy rocketing while the environment has flat lined: in the latest monthly figures for April, 33% say the economy is one of the key issues facing the country compared to 7% who cite the environment.
The research, says Ipsos MORI, does not support any suggestion of a consumer revolution. While 61% say they personally find the subject of climate change interesting, fully 77% are pessimistic about the likelihood of others responding.
Households do not appear convinced of the need for significant changes in behaviour—around one in four (26%) judge their personal responsibility involves small steps like recycling and off turning lights at home, but nothing else. Almost half (47%) accept the need to go further and look at transport patterns and purchasing decisions, but only 13% think this should involved significant and radical lifestyle changes.