Energy security is the leading environmental issue for Britons, over and above climate change, according to a new international Ipsos poll of working age adults.
Half of Britons (50%) feel that future energy supplies and sources is one of the most important environmental issues facing the nation. Other leading issues are waste management (48%); overpopulation (41%) and global warming / climate change (25%).
Of the 24 nations polled across the globe, Britain is in the bottom third in terms of concern around climate change. Lower placed nations include South Africa (23%), China (21%), Poland (19%) and Russia (9%). In contrast we are in the top three nations most concerned about energy security, behind Sweden (58%) and Germany (56%).
Ipsos MORI’s Head of Environment Research, Edward Langley, said:
“The public are cautious about climate change. They feel there is a lack of consensus on whether it is man-made and the degree to which it will impact their lives. In contrast, our dependency on fossil fuels is a more immediate and tangible risk that they can get their heads around, and one where they see an obvious need to take action to maintain living standards.”
There are a number of potential implications for environmental campaigners. Firstly, it is important for the public to realise that the science community is in broad agreement that man-made climate change is happening, and to link the impacts with risks the public care about, that is, our economic prosperity and that of our children. Secondly, campaigners need to consider the degree to which energy security can be used as a hook to encourage participation in sustainable behaviours.
Looking further afield, campaigners may also consider why other nationalities are more likely to feel Climate Change is a key environmental issue. For example, Japan (48%), Canada (40%), Spain (40%) and Germany (38%) are much more likely to say climate change is a key issue for them. Are there lessons which can be learnt in terms of how the public have been engaged there?
Ipsos conducted an online omnibus survey 2nd -14th February 2011. The survey was conducted in 24 countries around the world via the Ipsos Online Panel system. The countries included Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States of America. The international sample included 18,675 adults. Those interviewed were aged 18-64 in the US and Canada, and 16-64 in all other countries. Approximately 1000+ individuals participated on a country by country basis via the Ipsos Online Panel with the exception of Argentina, Belgium, Indonesia, Mexico, Poland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and Turkey, where each have a sample approximately 500+. Weighting was employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to the most recent country Census data, and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100% response rate would have an estimated margin of error of +/-3.1 percentage points for a sample of 1,000 and an estimated margin of error of +/- 4.5 percentage points 19 times out of 20 per country of what the results would have been had the entire population of adults in that country had been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.