Global warming tops UK’s eco concerns, whilst action focuses on waste

  • New research from Good Energy shows division between what people say they care about and what they do, when it comes to the environment
  • Six times as many people use a bag for life or re-used bag when shopping than use renewable energy sources, and more people avoid microbeads (39%) than try to reduce their car usage (28%)
  • Findings also show a split between generational priorities, with younger people aged 18-24 more likely to be the most concerned with climate change and older people more likely to be the most concerned with plastic waste

When asked which single environmental issue concerns them most, more people in the UK say global warming (29%) than disposal of plastic waste (24%), threats to wildlife (16%), air pollution (12%) or deforestation (10%), new research from clean energy company Good Energy has revealed. However, the survey conducted by YouGov* showed recycling rubbish and using a bag for life (or re-using a bag) when shopping are by far the most common actions people take out of concern for the environment.

A majority of 86% of people say they recycle their rubbish, whilst 85% claim to use a bag-for-life or re-used bag when shopping. The third from top action was using energy and water more efficiently, something which 72% stated they do — good news given the least polluting unit of energy is one not used.

Just 14% claim to have made a choice to use renewable energy, 1% more than buy organic food (13%) and considerably fewer than those actively avoiding unnecessary packaging (46%), despite 84% stating that renewable energy is important to them.

The research also found that on average, the older we are the more we are likely to be concerned about plastic waste, whilst broadly the opposite is true about global warming.

In general, which one, if any, of the following environmental issues would you say concerns you the most?

Reviewing what actions people take out of concern for the environment also reveals some worrying insights, including that more people do nothing (5%) than drive an electric or hybrid vehicle (3%).

Which, if any, of the following do you do out of concern for the environment?

CEO and Founder of Good Energy, Juliet Davenport, said, “I founded Good Energy nearly 20 years ago to combat climate change. Back then, despite science showing us the dilemma we faced, you would struggle to say it was high on the world agenda. Since then we’ve seen the conversation build, we’ve seen world leaders pledge to take action in the Paris Climate Agreement, but there’s clearly still a gap between average people’s concerns and the actions they take on an individual basis.

“Part of that can be explained by the ‘somebody else’s problem’ attitude — the idea that this is an issue so huge it must be dealt with ‘top down’. We want people to know that there are actions they can take that will have an impact when we take them together — switching to a clean power provider is a simple one, reducing or even cutting out your reliance on a fossil fueled vehicle is another.

“The insight that gives me optimism from this research is how concern for global warming is greater for younger generations — this shows that the message is getting through, and provides hope for the future provided we can convince more people to turn their anxieties into action.”


*Research commissioned by Good Energy and conducted by YouGov. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2110 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 4th - 5th January 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

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