Less than half of Britons are paying attention to news about COP26, while younger generations are least likely to know where it is taking place

COP26 seems to have dominated the news over the past two weeks, but have Britons actually been paying attention?

The author(s)

  • Rachel Brisley Public Affairs
  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs
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New polling by Ipsos MORI, conducted after the first week of COP26, shows less than half of Britons (46%) are following news about the COP26 climate change summit currently taking place in Glasgow. Only 1 in 10 (9%) are following it very closely while 53% say they are not following the news on this subject closely. 

To test for recognition of the event, Ipsos MORI asked respondents to name the location of the summit. Around two-thirds correctly named Glasgow as the host city (65%) while 14% are unsure and 6% say it is happening in London, 6% Edinburgh and the remainder somewhere else. Older Britons are more likely to be able to name the location of COP26; only 31% of people aged 16-24 correctly chose Glasgow while 16% chose London and 28% don’t know. Meanwhile, 86% of Britons aged 55-75 and 70% of 45-54-year-olds know where the summit is taking place this year.

Considering the groups of people attending the climate change conference, Britons are most likely to trust scientists and experts to make sure an agreement in reached between nations that protects the planet from the effects of climate change in the future. Four in 10 think scientists and experts are most likely to achieve this while a quarter (24%) trust climate change activists to get the job done. 

Less than 1 in 5 trust politicians to achieve an agreement, 17% say they trust UK politicians and 14% trust politicians from other countries. Around 1 in 10 say the British Royal Family (12%) and/or big businesses (8%) can be trusted to reach an agreement while 15% say none of the options listed can be trusted to do the job and 6% don’t think an agreement should be reached. 12% said they didn’t know.

Key COP26 announcements

Around half of Britons think China and India could be doing more in the fight against climate change. When considering India’s commitment to become carbon neutral by 2070, 50% say they are not ambitious enough. Similarly, 48% say the same concerning China’s pledge to become carbon neutral by 2060. On the other hand, one in three (33%) think the UK, the USA and the EU committing to be carbon neutral by 2050 is not ambitious enough, 34% think it is about right and one in five (20%) think it is too ambitious.

Opinion is more positive when it comes to the commitment from more than 100 countries to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030. More than one in four say this is not ambitious enough (28%), however almost 4 in 10 think the target is about right (39%). Nearly two in 10 (17%) deem it too ambitious.

The pledge to end deforestation meets with approval from four in 10 Britons. 41% say the announcement of over 100 countries agreeing to end deforestation by 2030 and restore damaged land in developing countries is about right. However, three in ten (29%) say it is not ambitious enough and only 17% say it is too ambitious. 

Rachel Brisley, Head of Energy and Environment at Ipsos MORI Public Affairs said:

With the eyes of all the media turned to COP26 in Glasgow and concern about climate change and the environment as high as ever, still less than half of Brits say they’re following the news about COP26 closely. And while work is underway on agreements with others having already been struck, public confidence in politicians to strike a deal is not high, with a number of the announcements not being viewed as ambitious enough already. With only a day left, the public still need convincing that enough is being done.

Technical note:

  • Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,016 Britons aged 16-75 Interviews were conducted online on the 5th November, 2021. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error.
     

The author(s)

  • Rachel Brisley Public Affairs
  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs

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