Climate change downgrade in the recession

Sun and wind turbines 4 March 2013

Poll results have revealed that public concern about environmental issues and climate change has sunk to a 20-year low since the beginning of the global financial crisis.

The GlobeScan Radar poll of 22,812 people in 22 countries, including the UK, revealed that fewer people now consider issues such as CO2 emissions, air and water pollution, loss of animal species or water shortages to be 'very serious' than at any time in the last two decades. These findings highlight our shifting attitudes to climate change as we are entering Climate Week, a week-long climate change campaign hosting a series of events across Britain.

"Evidence of environmental damage is stronger than ever, but our data shows that economic crisis and a lack of political leadership mean that the public are starting to tune out," comments GlobeScan chairman Doug Miller in The Independent.

The poll results mirror previous US findings from the University of Connecticut. The researchers suggest that most people view economic growth and environmental protection to conflict with each other; so to concede that climate change is worrying while simultaneously prioritising economic growth might lead to an internal conflict. Instead, the researchers argue, people seem to convince themselves that climate change might not really be happening.

Public attitudes to climate change, societal impacts and behaviour patterns are among the areas researchers are studying as part of ESRC's broad portfolio of environment research, listed below: