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North of England surveys find high levels of public concern about climate change

A public survey carried out by the Universities of Leeds, York, Manchester and Newcastle finds a rise in public concern on climate change.

The anonymous survey, produced by the Priestley International Centre for Climate, was conducted using face-to-face interviews at locations in Leeds, York, Newcastle and Manchester simultaneously during Green GB Week. The sample size for the survey was 419, and was made available online gaining a further 272 responses which were tallied separately.

Just over half (50.6%) of those surveyed said they were “very concerned” about climate change while a further 39% were “fairly concerned”.  Only ten per cent were not very concerned or not at all concerned. A substantial majority (82%) said they had personally noticed signs of climate change.

The online survey showed a demonstrably higher level of concern (76% were “very concerned”) and greater willingness across the board to take personal action, including on reducing flying (47%).

Results of the snapshot survey contrast with the much larger British Attitudes Survey conducted in July 2018, which found that only a quarter of people were very or extremely worried about climate change. Forty-five per cent were “somewhat worried” and 28% either not very or at all worried about it.

Individuals that participated in the survey were also asked about what 'climate solutions' they were willing to do to reduce their carbon footprint.

Here are the highlights from respondents:

  • 82% said they were willing to walk or cycle
  • 70% said they would use public transport and improve home energy efficiency
  • 66% said they would shop locally
  • 55% said they would reduce their consumption of meat and dairy
  • 35% said they would fly less

People surveyed were also asked to choose three actions out of eight that they thought were the most important ways to reduce carbon emissions locally. Nearly 50% of respondents said getting supermarkets to reduce waste, and 43% chose ensuring homes are low carbon.

About the survey

The surveys were conducted for a public engagement session called “Climate Chats” by volunteers from the Universities of Leeds, York (Stockholm Environment Institute and York Environmental Sustainability Institute), Newcastle and Manchester (Tyndall Centre) and processed by Priestley Centre researcher Kate Sambrook.

They took place on Monday 15 October, the first day of Green GB Week and seven days after the publication of the IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C. The report made headlines around the world, with the urgency and scale of emissions reductions needed to stay under a temperature rise of 1.5°C coming through strongly.

The climate solutions survey was also used to collect questions from members of the public to put to a panel of climate scientists from the four universities and other experts at a Climate Question Time event on Thursday 16 October. The sold out event, which was held in the council chamber at Leeds Civic Hall, attracted an audience of 120 and was livestreamed on the University of Leeds YouTube channel.

Further information

Responses to an open question: "What first comes to mind when you hear the words ‘climate change’?"
Responses to an open question: "What first comes to mind when you hear the words ‘climate change’?"

published on: 9 November 2018