The majority of Brits say the climate crisis will affect how they vote in the upcoming general election, according to new survey.
More than half of those polled (54 per cent) said climate change will affect how they vote, with younger people feeling particularly strongly about the issue. Following the groundswell of public demand for bolder climate action that has bubbled up thanks in large part to Greta Thunberg, David Attenborough, Extinction Rebellion and many others, green issues are a top concern for the younger generation. A massive 74 per cent of the under-25s say climate change will be a leading factor in deciding which party to vote for on December 12.
The climate crisis is expected to see more young people turning out to vote at this election than ever before. In 2017, more than half of those aged 18-24 turned out to vote, which was up 16 per cent on 2015.
Almost two-thirds of people agreed the climate emergency was the biggest issue facing humankind, with only seven per cent disagreeing. The same number also agreed that “fossil fuel companies, whose products contribute directly to climate change, should help pay for the tens of billions in damages from extreme weather events.”
The top priorities voters had for the government to limit further climate change were planting trees, making homes more energy-efficient and investing more into renewable energy.
Most people were supportive of bringing forward the 2050 deadline to cut UK greenhouse gases to net zero, and of a “green new deal” or “green industrial revolution” with large-scale, long-term investment in eco-friendly jobs and infrastructure.
Jonathan Church of environmental law firm ClientEarth, which commissioned the poll conducted by Opinium, said: “From the student strikes to Extinction Rebellion, people across the UK are demanding greater action to address the climate crisis. Importantly these demands appear strong enough to make a difference at the next election.”
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The poll of 2,000 UK adults aged 18 and over was conducted in September, before the most recent Extinction Rebellion protests but after a global climate strike that brought millions of people on to the streets.
The poll also showed support for fossil fuel divestment, with 60 per cent of people thinking banks and financial institutions should ditch investments in coal, oil and gas.
It comes after a YouGov poll in June which found public concern about the environment had rocketed to record levels in the UK after school climate striker Greta Thunberg visited parliament and the first major Extinction Rebellion protests took place. The environment was ranked as the third most pressing issue facing the nation, after Brexit and health but ahead of the economy, crime and immigration.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he will chair a new cabinet committee on climate change, holding departments to account for their actions to combat the climate crisis.
Earlier this month he said: “I want us to become the cleanest, greenest society on earth, and inspire countries around the world to follow our lead so that our children can breathe clean air and benefit from the wonderful flora and fauna of this earth.”
In June, the UK committed to ending net carbon emissions by 2050, when Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, accepted the advice of the government’s official advisory body, the Committee on Climate Change.
But CCC leaders said they were shocked the UK had no proper plans for protecting people from heatwaves, flash flooding and other effects of the climate crisis. The Opinium poll found 58 per cent of people believed the government has done too little to prepare for such impacts.