Climate change protest sign

Almost half of UK people feel unable to tackle climate change, survey suggests

Image credit: Markus Spiske | Unsplash

New research from BT has revealed that despite listing climate change as a key societal problem, almost half of the UK's population don’t feel that they have the ability to actively tackle it.

The research, conducted by BT and creative business and youth specialists Livity, revealed that climate change is the third most important issue for people after mental and physical health.

Despite this, almost half of those surveyed believed that they were incapable of tackling climate change individually and, as a result, one-fifth confessed to not having engaged with the issue at all.

From a poll of over 2,000 adults - amongst the general and diverse population aged 18-70+ in England, Scotland and Wales - 20 per cent admitted to not engaging with the climate change agenda, despite 32 per cent stating that they worry more about the state of the environment than they do about violent crime.

Almost one-fifth of those surveyed stated that feeling ‘alone’ in making a difference was one of the main reasons they had not attempted to tackle the issue of climate change. Others noted the lack of a collective movement to help them drive the cause.

As a result, one in four adults want better support from existing authorities to help guide their engagement with the climate change movement. More than a third also want businesses and manufacturers to make their sustainable products more affordable to help encourage greater adoption.

Ways in which some individuals are already attempting to make a change include reducing waste (54 per cent); shopping more locally (33 per cent), and raising awareness of the issues around climate change (14 per cent).

Gabrielle Ginér, head of environmental sustainability at BT, said: “Climate change is an issue that we all face and at BT we want more people to feel united in action. Where we live, our ethnicity and our socio-economic status all play a key role in defining our connection with climate change.

“No one person or organisation can tackle climate change alone, which is why we want people to feel inspired to make a contribution of their own, however large or small. It’s the combination of everybody pulling together that will make the difference.”

Alan Bryant, strategy partner at Livity said: “For those who feel they can have an impact, climate change is seen as something that everyone can play their part in. They believe in the cumulative impact of every individual’s actions.

“However, for those who don’t believe they can drive change, the opposite is true - they feel instead that the climate emergency is a bigger issue than the individual, a bigger issue than they can solve alone. Many believe it should be the responsibility of government and industry to enact change, but the truth lies, as ever, somewhere in the middle – with individuals and large groups both working together.”

The research forms part of BT’s wider sustainability strategy to encourage more individuals and businesses to actively tackle climate change. With a customer base of 30 million households, BT considers itself well-placed to help households cut their carbon footprint and recently partnered with environmental charity Hubbub to carry out a three-month ‘Smarter Living Challenge’ looking at the ways technology can help cut household emissions.

The company believes that its technology and networks will underpin many of the innovative solutions needed to achieve a net-zero carbon economy, supporting everything from home-working to the development of smart cities and enabling the Internet of Things.

As part of plans to become a net-zero carbon emissions business by 2045, BT is now using 100 per cent renewable electricity worldwide. Consumers who buy mobile or broadband from EE, BT or Plusnet are already supplied by networks that are powered by 100 per cent clean power. The company has also outlined plans to electrify up to 28,000 of its 33,000 vehicles by 2030.

In the run-up to crucial climate talks this year, such as the G7 meetings and the COP26 summit planned for November in Glasgow, BT is calling on other companies to get involved by setting their own ambitious net-zero targets and by engaging with their customers, colleagues and suppliers about climate change and the difference they can make.

Yesterday, the UK government announced that it would task the new Green Technical Advisory Group with laying out a guide clarifying what does and what does not qualify as sustainable investment, in a bid to crack down on corporate greenwashing.

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