Climate change questioned by a fifth of people in Britain

Survey shows significant number of people in UK are sceptical over extent of man-made climate change

Extinction Rebellion protesters demonstrate against climate change outside the Energy Department in London. EPA
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About a fifth of the people living in Britain believe that the scientific consensus on man-made climate change is wrong, a study has shown.

The findings were released by Universcience in its latest publication of the Critical Thinking Barometer, which seeks to uncover the extent of scientific and media literacy in Europe.

While the majority of people in Britain — 70 per cent — accept the scientific consensus on climate change, many respondents (19 cent) said they disagreed with it or had no opinion (11 per cent).

While two thirds of respondents believe that carbon dioxide produced by human activities is the main driver of climate change, nearly a quarter — 21 per cent — disagreed with this claim.

The survey, which questioned 1,573 adult British citizens, did not examine the reasons for the prevalence of climate-sceptic views.

Many of those questioned were sanguine about the challenges posed by climate change, with 44 per cent of British respondents considering that, although temperatures are rising, wildlife is capable of adapting.

In addition, for a quarter of the respondents, the recent cold snaps in the US showed that there is no climate change.

The belief that small acts were impactful in the climate fight was widely shared, with 78 per cent expressing belief that personal actions can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions overall.

Most also believe that large corporations are culpable for climate change, with 64 per saying they must be the first to act against the climate crisis.

A large majority also trust in technological innovations to provide solutions to climate change. Compared to a parallel survey of French public opinion more British respondents were that technological innovation could solve climate change (60 per cent against 53 per cent).

About 40 per cent of the respondents trust the majority of science culture, such as museums and centres, but science vloggers, such as those on YouTube and TikTok, are generally unable to convince them (15 per cent).

They are, however, more trusting of their social circle, with nearly a third of British citizens trusting their friends and colleagues when talking about the climate crisis.

Updated: May 10, 2023, 4:04 PM