British Public Becoming More Aware Of Scientific Consensus On Climate Change

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The British public is becoming more aware of the scientific consensus that exists around climate change, according to new survey results.

A new survey conducted by ComRes for the UK’s Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) concluded that the majority of British adults believe that climate change is a) happening and b) mainly caused by human activities. Furthermore, the number of British citizens who believe there is a scientific consensus surrounding climate change increased dramatically since 2014, up from only 53% to 61%. When digging deeper into this, however, only 16% of those surveyed believe that “almost all” scientists “believe that climate change is mainly the result of human activities,” while 45% believe it is “a majority.”

“Growing awareness of the scientific consensus on climate change is an important finding, because good understanding helps citizens to engage knowledgably with the democratic process,” said the Earl of Selborne, the Conservative Peer who chairs the House of Lords Select Committee for Science and Technology and is a member of the ECIU Advisory Board.

“But a substantial gap between perception and reality remains, which is troubling. It poses a challenge to opinion leaders, notably in politics and the media, to communicate facts clearly to the general public so they appreciate the rationale for climate change policies.”

On top of a growing belief in a scientific consensus, the British public is also more likely to desire an increase in the amount of renewable energy. When asked what options (if any) respondents wanted to see replace coal generation for electricity, 69% placed renewable energy in the top 3 options (with 42% of the total placing renewable energy first).

The ECIU conducted the survey “to detect changes in public understanding” a year after asking the same questions in its initial launch survey.

Many studies show that well over 90% of climate scientists, perhaps as many as 97%, think that the main cause of climate change is human activity. [1,2,3]

Exactly what is responsible for these increases in public awareness is unclear, however as the ECIU highlight, Robin Lustig, the journalist and broadcaster who presented BBC Radio Four’s The World Tonight for 23 years, and also a member of the ECIU Advisory Board, believes it could be the result of the media doing a better job of conveying the facts to the general public.

“It’s obvious that the media have a crucial role to play in conveying accurate information to listeners, viewers and readers, and these small but significant rises in the number of people who are accurately informed suggest that journalists and editors may now be doing a better job,” said Lustig. “But there is clearly a long way to go on both these issues, and it’s a shame that there are still too many articles and programmes suggesting that climate science is discredited or that the public hate renewable energy.”

These survey results come at a critical time in the UK’s environmental growth, following in the wake of a number of dramatic cuts to the country’s financial support mechanisms for renewable energy development. Just this week a new campaign was launched between RenewableUK and the Solar Trade Association “opposing the Government’s plans to cut financial support to small-scale renewables, including wind turbines and solar panels.” The campaign, People Power, “is calling for members of the public, as well as the thousands of renewable energy employees, to petition the Government to provide more stable support to these maturing sectors by writing to their local MP and harnessing the power of social media.”

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Joshua S Hill

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11 thoughts on “British Public Becoming More Aware Of Scientific Consensus On Climate Change

  • And all the while I thought that Britons are far smarter than Americans when it comes to the science behind climate change!

    • Has there been a comparable US survey lately?

      • “A new poll commissioned by Faison’s organization, ClearPath, found a majority of Republicans — 56 percent — believe in climate change and say that man plays some role in it. Fifty-four percent of conservative Republicans agree with that.”

        “The poll also found that 72 percent of Republicans (and 68 percent of conservative Republicans) support “taking action” to develop clean energy in the country.”

        ‘About half of Republicans say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports fighting climate change, according to a New York Times/Stanford pollthat came out earlier this year.

        Young Republicans are far more likely to be in favor of the government limiting the release of greenhouse gases, according to a 2014 Washington Post/ABC News poll. Almost three-quarters of young Republicans, age 18 to 29, said the government should limit greenhouse gases, compared with just over half of Republicans 65 and older.”

        (More than 50% of all Republicans over age 65. That’s the group with the highest percent of deniers. And it’s < 50% denier.)

        Feels like the Great Ship America is setting a new course….

    • Nope!

  • Who are the Britons?

    We all are, we are all Britons…and I am your King!

    Well, I didn’t vote for ya.

    You don’t vote for King!

    Well how’d you become King then?

    Sorry, rainy day here and droll statement from the previous poster.

  • What about Lewis J Powell’s estimate – based on a complete tabulation not a sample – that the percentage of scientists who have published peer-reviewed articles in scientific climate research jourmals over the past five years or so is 99.9%?

    • Yep.
      Dr James Powell’s latest (2015) analysis shows that 69,402 out of 69,406 climate change researchers accept human activity is the cause of global warming:
      It’s completely obvious to anyone who has even the most basic knowledge of climate change that there is near-unanimous consensus on at least the basic tenets. I still find it hard to believe that there are still so many who don’t realise it. Just shows what a good job the carbon corporation’s front groups are doing.

  • Sounds about right for a country that still maintains a 19th Century monarchy as it’s form of governemnt

    • The Queen isn’t involved in the government in any way apart from as a nominative ‘head’. If we didn’t have her we would have a president instead.
      In any case a constitutional monarchy is at least a democracy whereas the USA is a Republic and not a democracy and in reality is a Corporate Plutocracy.

      • Why is England’s government a democracy and the US government a republic?
        Are all laws voted on at the ballot box in England?

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