Concern over climate change continues in face of pandemic – official poll

Concern over climate change has remained high and even grown slightly even as the UK has been gripped by the coronavirus pandemic, a survey shows.

The latest official public attitudes tracker from the Business Department (Beis) reveals that more than four-fifths of people (82%) are either very or fairly concerned about current climate change.

Levels of worry are similar to what they were in June, the last time the survey was carried out, and have increased from 78% of those questioned in March.

There is also growing awareness of “net zero”, with two-thirds (66%) of people saying they are aware of the concept, up from just over half (52%) of those quizzed in March.

The UK has a legal target to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

This requires huge cuts to emissions from power, transport, homes and other sectors, and any remaining pollution has to be “offset” through measures such as planting trees to capture carbon, so overall greenhouse gas output is zero.

Almost one in five people questioned in September for the latest survey (18%) said they knew a lot or a fair amount about net zero, while 26% said they knew a little and 23% admitted they knew hardly anything but had heard of it.

The survey, which switched from face-to-face interviews to online since March as a result of the pandemic, also shows continued high levels of support for renewables, with 80% backing the technologies and just 3% opposed.

Some 85% of people support solar power, 79% back wave and tidal energy, 77% are in favour of offshore wind and 73% support onshore wind, the polling of more than 4,000 people through Kantar’s online omnibus shows.

Industry body RenewableUK welcomed the findings, with deputy chief executive Melanie Onn saying: “The sky-high level of public support in this latest poll chimes with the Prime Minister’s announcement that he wants every UK home to be powered by offshore wind by 2030.

“The industry is on course to achieve that with the mega-projects we’re installing in UK waters during this decade.

“We can build back better after Covid by putting onshore and offshore wind at the heart of our modern energy system, alongside innovative technologies like renewable hydrogen, floating wind and marine power.”