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Environment

New poll shows climate change and employment top concerns for Brits

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been urged to put the environment at the heart of the UK's post-pandemic recovery

Brits have listed climate change as their top concern.

Brits have listed climate change as their top concern Image credit: Julia Hawkins / Flickr

Climate change and employment opportunities are the most pressing concerns for the UK population, a new survey marking the fifth anniversary of the Paris climate agreement has found. 

New polling by international relief and development agency Tearfund, conducted by Savanta ComRes, found 71 per cent of adults were concerned about the impact of global warming on the next generation.

This worry was matched only by concerns about the number of employment opportunities available following the Covid-19 pandemic. 

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Dr Ruth Valerio, director of global advocacy and influencing at Tearfund, said urgent action was needed on climate change to limit the effects of the crisis on future generations. 

Dr Valerio said: “2020 has been a year of crisis for us all, but it’s clear that though we are all in the same storm, we are in different boats. 

“The poorest communities continue to be disproportionately affected by the climate emergency. While there has been progress, climate change must remain a primary concern, both for our own children and grandchildren and the most vulnerable around the world.” 

Dr Ruth Valerio said tackling climate change was essential for future generations.
Dr Ruth Valerio (above) said tackling climate change was essential for future generations. Image credit: Margaret Chandler / Tearfund
Dr Ruth Valerio (above) said tackling climate change was essential for future generations. Image credit: Margaret Chandler / Tearfund

According to the new research, women are more likely than men to see climate change as a concern, with 75 per cent listing it as a concern compared to 67 per cent of male respondents. 

Levels of climate anxiety also increased with age, with 74 per cent people aged over 55 seeing it as a concern compared with 66 per cent of those aged 18 to 34. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been urged to “build back better” and prioritise the environment as the nation recovers from the devastating impact of Covid-19. 

The UK unemployment rate hit 4.9 per cent according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, with 1.69 million people currently out of work. 

The Government has announced plans for a ‘”Green Industrial Revolution” to get ahead on climate change and create up to 250,000 green jobs. In a piece for the Big Issue, Flint Global director Josh Buckland said this was a good start, but more would be required. 

In November 2021, the UK will host the UN global climate change conference, nicknamed COP26, which will see experts and world leaders meet in Glasgow to discuss environmental issues. 

Tearfund said this meant Britain was in an ideal place to “lead by example” and set out green recovery policies to meet the Government’s ambition to limit global heating to 1.5C. This was agreed at the landmark Paris Agreement which was signed by 197 countries in 2015. 

Valerio added: “With less than 12 months to go before the UK hosts the UN global climate change conference (COP26) in Glasgow, we need the UK to lead by example, setting out well-funded green recovery policies that meet these ambitions.

 “While there are good signs of progress in the fight against climate change, five years on from the Paris Agreement, many of the predictions I was reading and warning about more than 20 years ago are coming to fruition and it grieves me deeply that more people are going hungry, extreme weather events are becoming more frequent, and communities are being displaced.” 

More than 2,000 Brits were also polled on issues from loneliness to mental health provision. 68 per cent of people listed the nations mental health as a concern, 62 per cent were worried about personal debt, while 57 per cent said they thought house prices would have an impact on the next generation. 

Have you been affected by the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic? The Big Issue is committed to supporting its readers and find ways to help people stay in their jobs and in their homes through our Ride Out Recession Alliance. Send your stories and ideas to rora@bigissue.com to help us support those who need it most.

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