Two in five people say that Covid-19 has in fact made them more conscious of the impact of climate change
There is a gap between the actions the public say that individuals could take to have an impact on climate change and the actions they themselves are prepared to take
In the year when the UK holds the presidency of the G7 and hosts COP26, our study reveals that there is a significant opportunity for Britain to show domestic and global leadership to address climate change.
Two thirds of people say that tackling climate change is more important than ever before (66%), but just one third believe climate change will improve in their lifetime (33%).
Whilst the world has spent a year tackling the global pandemic, two in five people say that Covid-19 has in fact made them more conscious of the impact of climate change (40%).
Brits think that both government and business are currently falling short on climate change. Only 30% think that government is doing enough to tackle it, and just 27% think business is doing enough. There are clear expectations on government and business to partner, with three quarters (78%) of people saying they should work together to tackle the issue.
The British public think it's not just for government and business to act to tackle climate change. They believe that they have personal responsibility, the ability to act and the licence to do so. Over six in ten agree with the statements ‘it is my responsibility to take action to tackle climate change’ (65%), ‘I understand how I can personally contribute to tackling climate change (64%)’ and ‘I am personally taking steps to help tackle climate change’ (63%).
However, there is a gap between the actions the public say that individuals could take to have an impact on climate change and the actions they themselves are prepared to take. There is a pervasive ‘do as I say, not as I do’ mentality.
64% of Brits say that using an electric car, rather than petrol car, would have an impact in addressing climate change, but only 34% of them would be prepared to or already use an electric car, rather than a petrol car - a 30-point gap.
Similarly, 61% of Brits say that going on fewer international holidays to reduce air travel would have an impact on addressing climate change, but only 34% say they would go on fewer international holidays to reduce their air travel – a 27-point gap.
Of the 14 individual actions we explored, only one saw a single figure gap between what people thought would make a difference and what they would actually be prepared to do, or already do. That action was around reducing plastic waste, with 78% saying reducing plastic waste would help address climate change and 70% saying they would be prepared to or are already reducing their plastic waste – an 8-point gap.
Ruth Warder, Edelman UK Chief Client Officer and EMEA Brand Chair, said:
“Our research suggests that people are more fearful about the long-term impact of climate change than Covid-19. The heightened awareness around plastic waste - the so called ‘Attenborough effect ‘- shows considerable opportunity for public education and empowerment campaigns. Businesses and governments should partner to story tell in a way that is accessible and resonates - reducing the gap between the individual actions people think would positively impact climate change and the willingness of people to take action themselves.”