Climate crisis is as serious as coronavirus, say Brits

The findings add to calls for the UK government to go on a 'war footing' to deal with climate change.

New polling by Ipsos Mori that two thirds of Brits believe that in the long-term, climate change is as serious as Covid-19.

However, Brits’ concern over the climate crisis is down on the 71% average across 14 countries polled. World-wide, 65% of people believe the climate crisis is as serious as coronavirus.

Respondents from China were the most likely to believe that in the long-term climate change is as serious a crisis as Covid-19 at 87%, while respondents from the USA and Australia are the least likely. Still well over half (59%) agreeing it’s as important as the coronavirus crisis.

It comes as recent polling for the New Economics Foundation showed that 60% of voters think the government is unprepared to deal with the climate crisis. Four fifths (81%) think the government was unprepared to deal with Covid-19.

Asked about what measures would help deal with the current coronavirus crisis, 72% of voters back a ‘job guarantee’, where the government makes sure everyone who can work has a job, and a majority (51%) back a Universal Basic Income. A whopping 74% back rent controls – caps on what landlords can charge for rent – including 70% of Conservative voters.

Hannah Martin, Co-Executive Director of Green New Deal UK, told Left Foot Forward:

“Huge numbers of Brits believe that the the climate crisis is as serious as coronavirus in the long run.  The need for a new deal for this country is clear – and sky high support for policies like a jobs guarantee and rent freezes shows that there is no going back to the economy built on the shaky foundations we had before.

“If your house fell down, you would rebuild the bits you love, but you would also deal with the leaky roof and draughty windows. That’s why we need a new deal for the country, we must build back better.”

Friends of the Earth’s head of policy Mike Childs said:

“Governments across the world have rightly torn up the rule book to fight the Coronavirus crisis – they must now show a similar resolve and urgency to head off the threat of climate breakdown.

“This is an opportunity to hit the reset button on our carbon-guzzling economy. Post-Covid-19 investment must be used to build the cleaner, safer and fairer future that science requires and the public want. It’s time to ditch climate-wrecking fossil fuels once and for all – and leave coal, gas and oil in the ground where they belong.”

Kelly Beaver, Managing Director of Public Affairs at Ipsos MORI, added:

“It is clear that while we deal with the Coronavirus crisis, Britons are still concerned with the environmental issues facing the world and the country.

“[But] whilst a majority say they want the environment prioritised in the economic recovery, people in Britain are divided (almost equally) on whether or not the government should take actions which might harm the environment to help the economy recover.”

Results are based on a sample size of approximately 1000+ individuals per country, with the exception of Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Hungary, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and Turkey, where each have a sample approximately 500+. Results were weighted to be representative of the countries’ populations.

Josiah Mortimer is co-editor of Left Foot Forward.

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