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Government has not done enough to tackle climate change, poll finds

1 November 2022

The government has not done enough to tackle climate change, a new poll commissioned by CAFOD has found.

A YouGov/CAFOD opinion poll found that 58% of Britons felt the UK government has done too little to tackle climate change over the past year.

The poll was commissioned in the run up to COP27 and underlines the failure of the government to capitalise on its COP Presidency and drive forward change to tackle the climate crisis.

Despite making a range of promises as COP President, such as promising to limit global temperature rises of 1.5 degrees and working toward more sustainable farming, the UK government has recently pursued policies which entrench reliance on fossil fuels and risk harming the planet.

This includes the Government announcing in October that it had handed out over 100 oil and gas exploration licenses in the North Sea.

Graham Gordon, CAFOD’s head of public policy said:

“The reality of the climate crisis is already here. In the UK, our summer saw 40- degree heat and even now in winter, we’ve had temperatures hit 20 degrees.

“But elsewhere in the world, the consequences have been deadly. There is a devastating drought in East Africa leaving millions on the brink of famine and deadly floods in Pakistan which have wrecked communities and taken many lives.

“It’s become painfully clear that the government’s knee jerk reaction to pursue more fossil fuels will not only cause more devastation, but its against the public wishes too.”

Nearly half of the public (47%) felt the government is not committed to its target to achieve Net Zero by 2050 and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

The government’s reeling back on its promises on tackling climate change have been put into sharp focus, as No10 confirmed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will not be attending COP27.

Neil Thorns, CAFOD’s Director of Advocacy and Campaigns said:

“In a year where we’ve seen deadly floods in Pakistan and devasting drought in East Africa, the eyes of the world will be on COP27 as we hope to finally see global leadership to tackle the climate crisis.

“Yet, sadly our Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has confirmed he’ll be missing in action. It's time for the government to stop the COP-out at COP27 and show its serious about tackling the climate crisis.”

The poll also found that a third of the public believe the government is not doing enough to support poorer countries to tackle climate change.

Developing countries have contributed very little to global greenhouse gas emissions, yet they are the ones who are suffering its consequences.

In Pakistan, hundreds of lives were lost recently to deadly floods, which destroyed swathes of communities. In Kenya, the worst drought for 40 years has seen crops and livestock decimated, leaving millions on the brink of starvation.

Public appetite for more support for these countries is ramping pressure on the government ahead of COP27, which will take place in Egypt on 7 November 2022.

The public also demonstrated support for using overseas aid to support farmers to grow food, with a quarter for Britons stating this should be prioritised in aid spend.

Young people aged between 18-24 expressed strongest disappointment in the government’s performance on tackling climate change, with 68% saying the government had done too little.

Other key findings in the poll include:

  • 40% of Conservative voters in 2019 feel the government has done too little to tackle climate change in the last year.

  • 68% and 63% of 18-24 and 25-49 year olds feel the government has done too little in the last year to tackle climate change.

  • 59% and 53% of 18-24 and 25-49 year olds feel the government is not committed to its Net Zero target and reducing its reliance on fossil fuels.

The opinion poll was conducted between 24th and 26th October 2022, with a simple size of 3,305 adults in Great Britain.