Environment

Climate change? Britain’s ‘not bovvered’

By Kitty Knowles 9 March 2017
Summary

We shamefully lag behind our European counterparts, new study finds.

If you believe in science – and we hope that you do – then you probably believe in climate change.

But compared to its European counterparts, Britain simply comes off a bit ‘not bovvered’.

Residents of Germany, France and Norway are more environmentally friendly and more likely to believe in climate change than people in the UK, new research from Cardiff University suggests today.

Even Brits that do believe, are ‘less environmentally concerned’ and active, this says.

What the people actually think

In Britain, climate change was only mentioned by 2% of respondents in the UK as the most important issue facing their country in the next 20 years (compared to 3% in Germany, 6% in France, and 10% in Norway).

What’s more, media scepticism around climate change was found to be primarily an Anglophone phenomenon.

Perhaps this is why a shameful 14% of Brits say they are sceptical about human activity as a cause for climate change, or that they do not believe that climate change occurs (compared to 8% in France and 9% in Germany).

A lovely cloak

The British government is not helping matters.

On the outset, the UK presents itself as a champion on climate change – we are behind the world-leading Climate Change Act of 2008, which mandates legally binding emission reductions of 80% by 2050.

But Britain today is not living up to its ‘champion’ image.

The current conservative government has not only instigated the phase-out of subsidies for onshore wind farms and solar systems, but continues to support the development of shale gas, North Sea oil and gas, and nuclear power.

In a manner akin to Little Britain‘s Vicky Pollard, it’s also shrugged off criticism from UN scientists and business analysts for ‘sending mixed signals’ around its support of low-carbon solutions.

Fighting the good fight

If all this makes you want to curl up in shame: there is good news, if you look.

On the flip-side, the majority (over 80% in all 4 countries) believe that the world’s climate is changing – and a similar proportion think that it is at least partly caused by human activity.

Renewable energy (solar, offshore and onshore wind, and hydropower) also remain the most popular energy sources across the UK, Germany, France and Norway: in each country, at least 69% support using public money to subsidise renewable energy sources.

Perhaps, in speaking to our readers, many of whom work in and around STEM businesses, we’re preaching to the converted.

But as individuals, we can always do more, and we also need the government to make better decisions, and better raise awareness of the realities of climate change.

If we don’t, Britain will face more and more extreme weather: more flooding and more drought.

We need to live up to our ‘champion’ image, or we will suffer.

Today, let’s start being a little more ‘bovvered’.