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

18 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
Total18-2425-4950-6465+
Weighted Sample1641179684395382
Unweighted Sample1641122736439344
%%%%%
Health6059575966
Economy5136515751
Britain leaving the EU4119335256
Climate change3142323222
Immigration & Asylum3014203947
Education2938332226
Crime2617252732
Housing2021231719
Welfare Benefits1613181714
Family Life / Childcare1191697
Pensions11471420
Tax74886
Transport53465
None of these11100
Don’t know618622
  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 ago14
Coronavirus has made me less concerned about climate change than I was a year ago9
No change – I was concerned about climate change a year ago and still am49
No change – I wasn’t that concerned about climate change a year ago and still am not21
Don’t know7
  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 habitats53
Rising sea levels47
Floods36
Wildfires31
Reduced food outputs (agricultural yield)26
Droughts24
Increased pests and diseases21
Other2
None of the above3
Don’t know10
  1. How well, if at all, would you say you understand the following and what a carbon footprint is?
Understand very well26
Understand fairly well54
TOTAL UNDERSTAND WELL80
Don’t understand very well14
Don’t understand at all6
TOTAL DON’T UNDERSTAND WELL / AT ALL20
  1. How clear or unclear is it to you how you could reduce your personal carbon footprint?
Very clear12
Fairly clear47
TOTAL CLEAR59
Fairly unclear23
Very unclear6
TOTAL UNCLEAR29
Don’t know11
  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 energy61
More tree planting in the UK34
Invest in hydrogen to use instead of fossil fuels24
More investment in carbon capture and storage technology19
Ban the use of diesel and petrol vehicles16
None of the above3
Don’t know15