British people more concerned about climate change than the pandemic, poll shows

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Climate change is the biggest issue of concern to the British public, a new survey has found, scoring more than the pandemic, Brexit and the NHS.

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The monthly survey by Ipsos MORI showed that concern for climate change is at its highest level since records began in 1988.

Four in ten consider the combined category of ‘climate change, pollution and the environment’ as the biggest issue facing Britain today. The poll was conducted from 5–11 November, covered the end of the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow and surveyed 1,001 people.


The pandemic was the second biggest issue of concern, with 27 percent of people mentioning the topic. Brexit – along with the European Union and Europe – came in third, with 22 percent of people referring to it.

Concerns about the environment were equally high across demographic groups, with Labor voters most likely to list it as conservative voters. But interestingly, there was a big difference in the attitudes of all the age groups.

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Nearly half of those aged 55 to 64 said the environment was a big issue. 43 percent of those aged 35-54 said they saw climate change as a concern, but this narrowed down to 27 percent of those aged 18 to 34.

Although younger people were less likely to say they were concerned about most issues, they were more concerned about COVID than other age groups.

According to an Ipsos poll, this is only the third time that climate change has topped the country’s list of concerns.

The previous highest score for issues was in July 1989, when it scored 35 percentile and topped the list. In July 1990 the environment was also the joint biggest issue, with NHS and local government issues ranking 30 per cent.

While there was a marked increase in concern for the planet during the month of the Cop26 conference, there has also been a long-term increase in its perceived importance.

A YouGov survey on the most important issues facing the country shows that concern for the environment has been growing steadily since the beginning of the year. In January this year, 23 per cent of the people had told those who voted on the subject, which has now increased to 34 per cent in November.

Ralitsa Hiteva, a senior research fellow at the University of Sussex Business School, said climate change is becoming a top priority for people because it is “getting personal”.

Speaking about the Ipsos Mori survey, she told CNN: “We are seeing that people are personally affected by things related to both the goal of Net Zero, and seeing and experiencing the effects of climate change – from large wildfires to rapid increases in the price of energy. “


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