Voters care more about the climate than politicians think

Politicians like Sunak seem to have misread the public mood.


Voters care a lot more about climate change than politicians like to think or admit, according to the latest polling and tracking of voters’ concerns.

Following the Uxbridge by-election, where the Tories made the expansion of the Ultra Low Emissions Zone a wedge issue, there has been much debate about the future of policies designed to tackle climate change. Tory MPs and the right-wing press have been pushing the government to backtrack on some of their key pledges, advocating the line that policies that impose too personal a cost on voters are unpopular.

Indeed, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has rowed back on some of his party’s pledges, after he failed to publicly back a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 earlier on in the week.

He has also stressed that climate targets must not impose ‘unnecessary’ costs. His comments came after a devastating heat wave took place across Europe, with fires burning on the Greek island of Rhodes.

Politicians like Sunak seem to have misread the public mood.

According to the latest issues tracker from campaign group More in Common, which works to tackle division in society and improve community cohesion, ‘climate is currently a more salient issue than it’s been for months, and ranks higher in the list of public concerns than other issues – such as small boat channel crossings, which get more media and political airtime.’

In this month’s issues tracker, More in Common finds that with heat wave Cerberus sweeping across Europe, climate and the environment comes third and is the highest level of concern recorded in More in Common’s polling in the last six months with a quarter of the public (24 per cent) identifying it as a top issue.

Polling for More in Common also found that “voters are nearly five times more likely to say that the government is not doing enough on climate change than say they are doing too much. Even those in the most conservative segments are much more likely to think the Government is not doing enough”.

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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