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Pollution and climate change jumps to become Britain’s biggest concern, poll finds

PEOPLE across Britain have identified pollution and climate change as their most pressing concerns, with the number who are most worried by those issues reaching a record level following the Cop26 summit in Glasgow earlier this month.

Climate change is the biggest concern for the British public, according to an Ipsos MORI survey, which recorded the highest-ever score for the issue – above the pandemic, Brexit, the NHS and the economy.

The research, carried out between November 5 and 11, found that four in 10 mentioned environmental issues as a concern, up 16 percentage points from October, while one in five said that they were the greatest problem facing the country.

Concerns about a lack of faith in politicians and politics have risen into the top 10 this month, although the proportion of people expressing this view is up by just two points to 11 per cent.

This is the highest recorded score for this issue since it was first included in the Issues Index in October 1988. The previous high was in July 1989, when it scored 35 per cent and topped the list. 

Concern about the environment and climate change is equally high across a wide range of demographic groups, including both Conservative and Labour supporters and across social class, with young people still the most concerned about the climate.   

Ipsos MORI associate research director Michael Clemence said that the findings were probably an effect of Cop26. 

Campaigners welcomed the survey’s results as a sure sign that the British public is grasping the seriousness of the ecological challenge. 

Greenpeace UK senior climate campaigner Ariana Densham said: “It poses a huge question to the government on whether they are prepared to do what it takes to alleviate this concern. 

“They now have the mandate to bring forward the strong, well-funded and fair action we need to cut carbon across the economy. The question is, will they? 

“Are they ready to call time on fossil fuel projects like the Cambo oilfield? How will they ensure a just transition to help workers move from polluting industries to new green jobs? 

“These issues and more need to be at the top of the Prime Minister’s in tray as he looks to maintain a claim to global climate leadership after Cop26.”

Climate Coalition director Ben Margolis added: “The public mandate for decisive and ambitious action from the government has never been stronger, so it’s about time the Prime Minister and Chancellor get on with the job.”

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