Poll Reveals Voters See Climate Change As More Important Than The Economy

Rachel Wearmouth

Climate change is more important to voters than the economy, crime and education, a new poll has revealed. 

The environment sits third in the public’s list of priorities, behind Brexit and the NHS, according to the YouGov poll. 

It comes after Sir David Attenborough, Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg made high profile interventions in the climate change debate.

The YouGov survey, commissioned by Hope Not Hate, sees the environment ranked as the top issue for 27% of voters.

This is up from 17% last summer when climate change was ranked seventh. 

For younger voters, climate change was second only to Brexit, with 38% of 18 to 24-year-olds listing it as priority number one compared to 25% for over-65s. 

The poll, shared with HuffPost UK, was conducted as part of the campaign group’s “Fear And Hope 2019” report which will be released on Tuesday.

Rosie Carter, senior policy officer for the campaigning organisation and report co-author, said while the country was divided on many other issues there was now a “clear consensus over the environment as one of the most important issues facing the country today”. 

“This cuts across political affiliation, gender and class, though it’s clear that it remains an issue of urgency more for the young than the old,” she said.

“What is refreshing is that high profile campaigns like Extinction Rebellion, the awareness raising work of David Attenborough and the recent climate schools protests have all had an effect, showing the power for positive change.”

The YouGov survey polled more than 6,000 British adults between April and May of this year. 

It follows a separate polls of 9,483 voters in mid-May, carried out by DataPraxis, which showed 59% of people backed the statement “protection of the environment should be given priority, even at the risk of curbing economic growth”. 

Support for climate action spanned all political leanings, gender and age, according to the survey. It included three-quarters of all Conservative voters, 74% of 2016 Leave voters and 63% of people who voted UKIP in 2015.

Nigel Farage supporters backed the statement by a margin of four to one and supporters of Tommy Robinson (real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon) by almost three to one. 

In the same survey, 79% of people agreed that people should make sacrifices in their own lifestyles, such as taking fewer flights or cutting down on plastic use, in order to stop global warming.

However, a quarter of people also agreed with the statement ‘the threat of climate change is exaggerated’. This view was held by 33% of 2017 Conservative voters and a third of those who voted for Brexit in 2016. The figure also rose tto 44% of UKIP’s 2015 voters and 43% of those who strongly support Nigel Farage. 

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