BMG’s exclusive COP26 public opinion poll for The Herald on Sunday finds that the majority of the public are pessimistic on the outcome of the conference.

How confident, if at all, are you that world leaders will reach a solution capable of effectively tackling climate change at COP26? 

Confident = 21%

Not confident = 70%

Don’t know = 9%

Some people would prefer that the UK Government focuses the economy and protecting existing jobs, even if this worsens emissions and damages the environment. Others would prefer that the UK government focuses on reducing emissions and protecting the environment, even if this hurts existing jobs and damages the economy. Which of the following best matches your view? 

The UK Government should focus on the economy and protecting existing jobs, even if this worsens emissions and damages the environment = 34%

The UK government should focus on reducing emissions and protecting the environment, even if this hurts existing jobs and damages the economy = 49%

Don’t know = 17%

Analysis from Adam King, BMG pollster:

Despite the continued rhetoric from the UK Government and its COP26 partners that climate change is a key focus, our polling shows that seven in ten Britons are pessimistic about whether world leaders can reach a solution capable of effectively tackling climate change at the conference.

This doubt may in part be fuelled by the public’s view of the Conservative Government’s own record on climate change which is seen as poor by two-fifths, and as mixed by almost a third. Even amongst Conservative voters, only two-fifths think it is doing well with its handling of the issue.

While cynicism towards politicians is certainly not new, nor limited to environmental issues, Boris Johnson, Alok Sharma, and the rest of the UK delegates should note that climate change is now a key concern to the GB public. Over three-quarters of them agree that global temperatures are increasing as a result of human activity, and almost half want to see the UK Government reducing emissions and protecting the environment, even if this hurts existing jobs and damages the economy.

 Even historically more sceptical parts of the population are now most likely to want to see politicians take action on climate change. The result is that policies including the UK Government paying for all homes to be retrofitted with improved insulation, a frequent flyer tax aimed at the 10% flying most regularly, and a ban on the expansion or creation of new airports in the UK all attract high levels of public support.

One comfort for the Conservatives is that, aside from the Greens, they are the party whose policies on the environment are most likely to be trusted by voters – though a fifth say they do not have faith in any party. Meanwhile, as many as a third of those who voted Labour in 2019 say they are more likely to trust Green Party’s environmental policies, something that Keir Starmer and his team will most likely be concerned about.

An article by The Scottish Herald about these figures can be found here.

Methodology, fieldwork dates, and a full breakdown of these results can be found here.

For a more detailed breakdown of results from this poll, or any other results from our polling series, please get in touch by email or phone.

polling@bmgresearch.co.uk

@BMGResearch0121 333 6006

Adam King – Research Manager

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