Surge in public concern over environment and climate linked to rise in protest activity, research shows

A rise in environmental activism has directly impacted public levels of concern about the climate crisis, keeping it high in the public consciousness, new research suggests.

Unlike global sea levels, concerns about climate breakdown and the state of the environment have not risen steadily as the problem has become more urgent. Instead, people’s fears in relation to human impacts on the world rise and fall in waves.

Current levels of concern in the UK are high. Shortly after the last general election, and before the Covid pandemic, 25 per cent of the public said the environment was the top issue facing the country – the highest level since 1990. More recently, in November last year, the same month the Cop26 negotiations took place in Glasgow, this figure stood at 40 per cent. That is compared to 2012, when fewer than 5 per cent of people rated climate and environment concerns as the most pressing issues.

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