The majority of British people want world leaders to agree a global climate deal and they want this agreement to happen now, finds a government-backed opinion poll.
The pressure on governments to achieve a meaningful deal in Paris next year is mounting in all directions and it’s no longer just businesses and NGOs that are demanding action.
As the Populus poll shows, 73 per cent of the 2,000 people surveyed want a climate deal. This is virtually the same proportion (72 per cent) of people that recognise the benefits of tackling climate change.
“Governments are backed by a groundswell of people who want to see action,” said energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey. It was only two months ago that hundreds of thousands of individuals joined together to march for climate action in cities across the globe.
“We are at a global turning point—never before have so many countries made clear their determination to act to tackle climate change,” Davey continued. “The science is clear. Climate change poses great risks to health, global food security and economic development—and unchecked will change every part of our lives.”
But exactly how climate change will impact our lives is less well understood by the public, the poll finds.
According to the survey, 40 per cent of people don’t think climate change will have a negative impact on their lifestyles. This is despite scientific findings laid out in the latest report published earlier this month by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change detailing the impacts of rising temperatures, including more frequent and severe flooding—something the British public felt all too well last winter.
“This demonstrates the failure to successfully communicate climate change impacts to the mainstream,” Trewin Restorick, founder of start-up charity Hubbub UK, wrote in Business Green yesterday. “An honest and open debate will help increase awareness and better prepare people for the changes scientists tell us are inevitable.”
In an effort to communicate the scale of the expected impacts to the public, Hubbub partnered with the Department for Energy and Climate Change to host a 10-hour global ‘tweetathon’ on 25 November in collaboration with a range of organisations, experts and companies.
Time to Act
The survey and participation in the tweetathon shows the public is clearly ready for climate change to be taken seriously by politicians. This is compared to a mere fifth of people surveyed stating that climate action can be delayed a few years.
“This seems counter-intuitive as political leaders of all colours seem reluctant to come out strongly in favour of climate action,” Restorick wrote. “Perhaps a highly vocal minority is swaying political opinions away from what the mainstream seem to want.”
Just last week, Labour party leader Ed Miliband criticised those politicians that “headed for the hills” when times got tough for taking action on the environment. “The political consensus on climate change has frayed,” he said at the Green Alliance’s 35th birthday celebration.
It’s assumed Miliband was referring to Prime Minister David Cameron’s inconsistent track record, from “hugging huskies in opposition to ditching ‘green crap’ in office” as Guardian columnist Damian Carrington writes.
But as the clock ticks closer to climate talks in Lima and Paris, as well as the general election next spring, the poll could not be clearer—the public wants action on climate change. It’s now time for the politicians to start listening.
Photo: Gareth Thompson via Flickr