Climate protestor holding sign

Climate change set to sway next election as majority of Britons say it will affect how they vote

Climate change is set to influence the next election, as over half (54%) of Britons say it will affect the way they vote. Nearly two-thirds (63%) said politicians are not talking enough about climate change, and 70% think the climate emergency demands more urgent action.

“From the student strikes to Extinction Rebellion, people across the UK are demanding greater action to address the climate crisis, with more than half of adults saying that climate change will impact how they vote.”

Our new survey shows that more than six in 10 (62%) did not know that their bank or pension fund could be investing their money in fossil fuels, and 67% of young people think financial institutions and banks should be legally accountable if they don’t ditch fossil fuels.

Our lawyer Jonathan Church said: “From the student strikes to Extinction Rebellion, people across the UK are demanding greater action to address the climate crisis. Importantly, these demands look strong enough to affect the next election, with more than half of adults saying that climate change will impact how they vote.

“It’s clear the public want to see more from the UK government: more ambition to achieve the goal of zero net emissions and more concrete action to stop current carbon reduction targets from going unmet.

“The public also wants more action locally – investment in cleaner transport and more energy efficient homes – and they want councils to fulfil their legal obligation to make carbon reduction central in local planning decisions to truly green their communities.”

Opinium surveyed more than 2,000 people to take the temperature of the nation for our Climate Snapshot 2019. It finds that most (58%) think the UK government has not properly prepared for climate change, and shows widespread support for policies championed by opposition parties. Britons want the government to:

  • Bring forward the 2050 deadline for reducing UK emissions to net zero (61%);
  • Do more to encourage a shift to electric and other low-emission vehicles (61%);
  • Introduce a ‘Green New Deal’ or ‘Green Industrial Revolution’ with large-scale, long-term investment in green jobs and infrastructure (63%); and,
  • Plant more trees or reforest land (64%).

People want more action from local government, too. They say councils’ top priorities should be to plant more trees (81%), set carbon-reduction targets and make sure planning decisions support them (72%), and enforce energy-efficiency standards for rental homes (69%). They also want local government to invest more in footpaths and bike lanes (69%) and prioritise public transport improvements over building new roads (66%).

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Markus Spiske