Coronavirus and second national lockdown increases concern of climate change amongst British public - OVO Group
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Coronavirus and second national lockdown increases concern of climate change amongst British public

With under a year to go until the UK hosts the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, polling commissioned by OVO Energy shows that when asked whether coronavirus had made people more or less concerned about climate change, 49% reported being as concerned as they were before with an additional 14% reporting that coronavirus had made them more concerned about climate change.

Posted:

17 November 2020

  • Despite the immediate concerns of the health pandemic, 63% of Brits are either as concerned about climate change as they were a year ago (49%) or more concerned than they were because of the coronavirus (14%). 
  • The public favours the Government prioritising more investment in renewable energy and planting trees to tackle climate change than in unproven technologies like hydrogen and carbon capture and storage. 
  • Despite 80% having a good understanding of what a carbon footprint is only 59% of people are clear about how to reduce it.
  • With 28% of an average individual’s carbon footprint in the UK coming from their home energy, OVO Energy has committed to helping its members halve their carbon footprints and reduce their household emissions to net zero by 2030. 

With under a year to go until the UK hosts the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, polling commissioned by OVO Energy shows that when asked whether coronavirus had made people more or less concerned about climate change, 49% reported being as concerned as they were before with an additional 14% reporting that coronavirus had made them more concerned about climate change. 

The younger generation (18-24 year olds) now list climate change only second to health as a priority issue for the Government, while it now ranks fourth amongst the public as a whole after health, the economy and leaving the EU. 

The survey results also indicate the emergence of what might be termed the “David Attenborough effect” with over half the population (53%) citing the loss of animals and habitats as the most concerning impact of climate change, followed by rising sea levels (47%), floods (36%) and wildfires (31%). 

With the Prime Minister expected to deliver a speech about energy and climate change in the coming weeks, results show that the public significantly favours the Government prioritising more investment in renewable energy and planting trees to tackle climate change than they do investing in unproven technologies like carbon capture and storage and hydrogen. Two thirds of respondents (66%) thought the Government should be doing more to encourage tree planting in the UK as a response to climate change. Only 15% think it is doing all it reasonably can.

Despite 80% saying they understand well what a carbon footprint is, just under a third (29%)  say they are unclear how to reduce it. However 18-24 year olds are almost twice as likely as the over 65s to be ‘very clear’ about how to reduce their carbon footprint (19% to 10%).

In response to the climate crisis, OVO launched Plan Zero setting out its vision and strategic direction for the next 10 years. Pledging to hold itself accountable to science-based targets aligned to a 1.5°C increase in global temperatures the company also committed to helping its members halve their carbon footprints by 2030. 

Analysis by the Carbon Trust shows that 28% of an average individual’s carbon footprint in the UK comes from their home energy. OVO Energy is committed to reducing those emissions to net zero, starting out with supplying 100% renewable electricity and planting a tree for every member each year they’re with OVO. 

Kate Weinberg, Director of Sustainability at OVO said: 

“Despite Britain entering its second lockdown, the public are as concerned as ever about the need to tackle the climate crisis. The British public are right to be concerned. OVO Energy is making progress on its net zero targets, holding ourselves to science based targets and helping our members halve their carbon footprints by 2030. With just under a year to go until the UK hosts COP26, this government has a real opportunity to take the centre stage and show that the UK can lead the world in tackling climate change.” 

-ENDS

About OVO 

OVO is a collection of companies driving progress to net zero carbon living through harnessing clean, affordable energy for everyone. Across the group, OVO serves nearly 5 million customers with intelligent energy technology solutions to decarbonise homes. Founded in 2009 by Stephen Fitzpatrick, OVO redesigned the energy experience to be fairer, greener and simpler for all. Today, OVO is on a mission through its sustainability strategy, Plan Zero, to tackle the most important issue of our time – the climate crisis.

OVO’s retail businesses include: OVO Energy, Boost, Spark Energy, CORGI HomePlan and SSE Energy Services.

Editor’s Note:

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,641 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 3rd – 4th November 2020, after the announcement of a new national lockdown in England and just prior to the lockdown coming into effect.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

Survey results (full results found on YouGov website)

  1. Which of the following issues, if any, do you think the Government should prioritise? Please tick up to four.
Age
Total 18-24 25-49 50-64 65+
Weighted Sample 1641 179 684 395 382
Unweighted Sample 1641 122 736 439 344
% % % % %
Health 60 59 57 59 66
Economy 51 36 51 57 51
Britain leaving the EU 41 19 33 52 56
Climate change 31 42 32 32 22
Immigration & Asylum 30 14 20 39 47
Education 29 38 33 22 26
Crime 26 17 25 27 32
Housing 20 21 23 17 19
Welfare Benefits 16 13 18 17 14
Family Life / Childcare 11 9 16 9 7
Pensions 11 4 7 14 20
Tax 7 4 8 8 6
Transport 5 3 4 6 5
None of these 1 1 1 0 0
Don’t know 6 18 6 2 2

 

  1. Would you say coronavirus has made you more or less concerned about climate change than you were a year ago, or has there been no change?
Coronavirus has made me more concerned about climate change than I was a year ago 14
Coronavirus has made me less concerned about climate change than I was a year ago 9
No change – I was concerned about climate change a year ago and still am 49
No change – I wasn’t that concerned about climate change a year ago and still am not 21
Don’t know 7

 

  1. Thinking about the impacts of climate change, which of the following do you think are the most concerning? Please tick up to three.
Loss of animals and habitats 53
Rising sea levels 47
Floods 36
Wildfires 31
Reduced food outputs (agricultural yield) 26
Droughts 24
Increased pests and diseases 21
Other 2
None of the above 3
Don’t know 10

 

  1. How well, if at all, would you say you understand the following and what a carbon footprint is?
Understand very well 26
Understand fairly well 54
TOTAL UNDERSTAND WELL 80
Don’t understand very well 14
Don’t understand at all 6
TOTAL DON’T UNDERSTAND WELL / AT ALL 20

 

  1. How clear or unclear is it to you how you could reduce your personal carbon footprint?
Very clear 12
Fairly clear 47
TOTAL CLEAR 59
Fairly unclear 23
Very unclear 6
TOTAL UNCLEAR 29
Don’t know 11

 

  1. When it comes to combating climate change, which of the following do you think the Government should prioritise? Please tick up to two.
More investment in renewable energy 61
More tree planting in the UK 34
Invest in hydrogen to use instead of fossil fuels 24
More investment in carbon capture and storage technology 19
Ban the use of diesel and petrol vehicles 16
None of the above 3
Don’t know 15

 

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