Hubbub 2021 polling on environmental attitudes and awareness | Research | Hubbub

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Polling Results The following document outlines the results from polling commission by Hubbub, exploring awareness of and attitudes to climate change, climate action and net zero targets in the run up to the COP26 November 2021 conference. The polling of 4,013 nationally representative UK respondents aged 16+ was carried out by Censuswide between 2nd August 2021 and 6th August 2021. In response to the polling findings, Hubbub launched ‘Make our Move’ a straight-talking social media campaign based around 12 key actions that people can take to tackle climate change. The campaign builds upon Hubbub’s extensive experience of delivering impactful campaigns. You can find out more about the campaign at If you’d like to access our comms pack including digital assets please contact us at

RESULTS: Climate change and its causes Level of concern about climate change (Q1) • The majority of respondent (61%) are concerned about the impact of climate change, with just 12% saying they are not very concerned. (Q1) o Surprisingly, the younger generation appears to be less concerned than the older generation (55% of 16-24s/54% of 25-34s vs. 63% of 45-54s/66% of over 55s). o Regionally, Wales (66%) is the most concerned about climate change and the North East (56%) is the least concerned. • Two thirds (66%) of respondents don’t agree that they feel confident the world can successfully tackle climate change before it’s too late Causes of climate change (Q1) • Almost three in ten (29%) of respondents feel confused about climate change in terms of how it’s happening and what causes it. (Q1) o Women are more likely than men to feel confused about climate change, with a third (33%) admitting they are, compared to a quarter (25%) of men. o 38% of people say they don’t feel confused about climate change. •

58% of respondents believe that climate change is caused by human activity. (Q1) o A quarter (25%) of young people aged 16-24 don’t believe climate change is caused by human activity, compared to 18% of the population as a whole.

Just 14% of people say they are not worried about climate change as they think it’s just nature running its course. (Q1)

Climate change in the UK vs. the rest of the world (Q1) • More than one in five (21%) of respondents admit they think the effects of climate change are going to hit other parts of the world harder than the UK so they don’t feel the problem is so relevant to them. o 30% of young people aged 16-24 have this attitude, compared to just 14% of those aged 55+. o 27% of those living in Greater London admit they don’t feel the problem is relevant to them, the most of any region. Scots (15%) are the least likely region to think this. o Level of income appears to influence attitudes as to how relevant respondents feel climate change is to them in the UK – 26% of those earning over £75k annually admit they don’t think the problem is so relevant to them, compared to 17% of those earning £15k or less.

28% of people agree the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions are much smaller than many countries with much bigger populations, so the onus shouldn’t be on us. (Q1) o A third (33%) of young people aged 16-24 agree with this statement. o 35% of those earning more than 75k annually agree with this statement.

Actions to tackle climate change Individual action (Q1) • More than a third (35%) of respondents agree climate change is a huge issue but they aren’t sure their actions make much difference, while a further 32% disagree with this statement. (Q1) o Young people feel this even more strongly, with half (50%) admitting they are unsure their actions make a difference and just one in five (20%) thinking they might. •

More than four in 10 (42%) respondents say they feel helpless about the issue of climate change. (Q1) o While young people might be less concerned about climate change (see above), they are also the most likely (49%) to feel helpless about it.

Just 26% of people think they are doing as much as they reasonably can to reduce their impact on the environment. (Q5)

22% say they’re taking some actions to reduce their impact on the environment but could do more. (Q5)

21% say they know what actions they can take to play their part in reducing their impact on the environment. (Q5)

Prompts to take individual action (Q4) • 82% of people say they have been prompted to take more action to tackle climate (Taken by flipping the 18.27% stat in Q4) or 90% of people are currently taking some actions to reduce their impact on the environment. (Taken from flipping the final two stats in Q5) •

The following table outlines the key information or events that have promoted people to take more action to tackle climate change. (Q4) Information/event News reports/footage of extreme weather in the UK News reports/footage of extreme weather in other countries Documentaries e.g. Seaspiracy, Blue Planet The Covid-19 pandemic/experiencing a global catastrophe Direct experience of extreme weather like flooding or heatwaves Significant life event like having a child or grandchild Pressure or encouragement from family or friends

Percentage 39% 38% 34% 28% 23% 13% 9%

While a quarter (25%) of people say environmental campaigns don’t feel relevant to them or their life, 40% disagree with this statement. (Q1) o Young people aged 16-24 (31%) are most likely to feel environmental campaigns don’t feel relevant to them.

Type of individual actions to combat climate change (Q6a to d) The most common actions people are currently taking or planning to take are cutting food waste (89%), reducing their home energy use (87%) and eating more vegetables (84%).


Currently taking action (most and some of the time)

Planning to take action

Cut food waste Reduce home energy use Air dry clothes rather than using a tumble dryer Eat more vegetables

77% 74% 72%

12% 13% 13%

Currently taking action or planning to take action (combined responses) 89% 87% 85%




Eat more vegetables, fruit, wholegrains and pulses Eat more seasonal and locally grown food Recycle all electronic waste Turn thermostat down by 1 degree Cycle or walk rather than use the car for shorter journeys Repair clothing Repair tech items Buy second hand instead of new when possible Choose better meat when I buy Switch to a 100% renewable energy tariff




65% 64% 67% 63%

18% 19% 13% 14%

83% 83% 80% 77%

60% 56% 52%

17% 19% 19%

77% 75% 71%

51% 26%*

18% 40%

69% 66%

48% 39%

15% 23%

63% 62%

38% 39% 34%

20% 17% 18%

58% 56% 52%




25%* 10%* 26%

23% 37% 18%

48% 47% 44%







Reduce the amount of meat I eat Support politicians with a proactive environmental agenda Reduce the amount of dairy I eat Reduce the amount of fish I eat Proactively encourage change within workplace and/or educational establishment Switch UK domestic flights to travel or train by coach Commit to not buying peat If you drive, switch to a renewable car Switch European flights to travel by train, coach or boat Switch to an ethical bank Switch to a green pension fund

Barriers to being environmentally friendly (Q7) • The main barrier to stopping people being as environmentally friendly as they could be is that it can be expensive (36%), followed by not being clear about what actions have the most impact (21%) and not being sure where to start (15%). (Q7) o 14% of people say what stops them is that they feel they are expected to make some big changes that they’re not ready for.

Incentives to encouraging them to act (Q10) • Financial incentives (37%) are what would encourage most respondents to act to help reduce climate change, followed by clearer guidance (34%) and more support from the local council (28%). (Q10)

Incentive Financial incentives/if it was cheaper to do Clearer guidance on what would make a difference and where to start More support from my local council Stronger leadership from government More support and encouragement from companies Better understanding of the impact climate change will have on my life and people I know More support from environmental and community groups If I see my family, friends and neighbours making changes

Percentage 37% 34% 28% 27% 25% 25% 18% 16%

Actions of others to tackle climate change Views on friends, family and others (Q1 and Q9) • One in seven (14%) of those surveyed wouldn’t think twice about challenging friends and family about how their actions affect the environment and do it regularly. (Q9) o A further 26% would challenge them if they felt strongly enough. o 43% of those surveyed wouldn’t challenge friends and family about how their actions affect the environment – 26% wouldn’t as they feel it’s none of their business, 9% would feel like a hypocrite and 8% would feel too awkward. •

More than half (51%) of respondents feel like the people around them are not taking climate change seriously enough. (Q1)

Views on employers’ efforts to reduce impact on the environment (Q8) • On average employees surveyed only gave their employers 6 out of 10 for their current efforts to reduce their environmental impact. (Q8) o Just 7% gave their employers a 10 out of 10 and 20% of people would give them less than 5 out of 10.

Role of governing bodies and external factors Climate change responsibility (Q1 and Q5) • More than four in 10 (41%) agree that climate change is an issue that governments and industries have to solve, not individuals. (Q1) o Young people aged 16-24 (49%) are most likely to think this. •

However, 40% think everyone needs to play their part – government, businesses and the public. (Q5)

More than half (51%) of people think the UK Government is not doing enough to tackle climate change. (Q1) o 60% of young people aged 16-24 feel this compared to 47% of those aged 45+.

Impact of the pandemic • A quarter (25%) think that if we can change how we live overnight to manage the Covid19 virus, we can do the same for climate change. (Q5) • 28% of respondents have been prompted to take more action to take climate change because of the Covid-19 pandemic/experiencing a global catastrophe (Repeated stat from Q4 table).

Understanding of key terms in the countdown to COP26

Net zero understanding (Q2 and Q3) • The majority of people (77%) admit they wouldn’t be able to explain to a friend what net zero is. (Q2) o 81% of women admit this compared to 71% of men. o A range of incorrect meanings were cited by respondents including: ▪ ‘Zero pollution’ ▪ Zero carbon emissions’/’remove carbon dioxide from society’ ▪ ‘Zero CO2’ ▪ ‘Zero waste’ ▪ ‘Zero landfill’ ▪ ‘No profit’ ▪ ‘No footprint’ • Only 19% of people are aware that we need to get to net-zero by 2050 to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 °C. (Q3) o More than half (55%) of people think we have less time than this, with the majority (20%) of people thinking targets need to be achieved by 2030. o One respondent thought we had until the year 3000 and another until the year 2500! COP26 awareness, understanding and views (Q11) • Almost four in 10 (38%) have no idea what COP26 is. (Q11) o 44% of women have no idea what it is, compared to 30% of men. o 41% of those aged 35-44 have no idea what it is, the most of any age group. • Just 8% of respondents have a clear understanding of what it is; 15% say they have some understanding of what it is. (Q11) • While 10% of respondents are sceptical about what COP26 will deliver, 10% say they are excited that COP26 is taking place here in the UK. (Q11)

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