The Office for National Statistics has issued its quarterly publication bringing together the latest climate change-related statistics and analysis from a range of sources.
- Almost two-thirds (64%) of adults in Great Britain said they were worried (somewhat or very) about the impact of climate change in the past 12 months.
- Of those who said they were worried, around three-quarters (74%) said that they were concerned about the impact on future generations; this was highest among those aged 70 years and over (83%).
- The most recent decade, 2013 to 2022, has seen an increase of 26% in the annual average number of summer days and a 16% decrease in icing days (days where the air temperature does not go above freezing) in the UK compared with the 1991 to 2020 average.
- There were 3,271 excess deaths in England and Wales during the five heat-periods between June and August 2022.
- Greenhouse gas emissions, on a residence basis, from the UK’s human health and social work sector have fallen by 11% between 1990 and 2021.
Moving to net zero
Concern about climate change
The latest estimates from OPN’s Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) from 5 April to 1 May 2023 show that in the past 12 months, 64% of adults in Great Britain said they were somewhat or very worried about the impact of climate change.
This figure was higher among adults in London (75%) and lower in the North East (53%). Adults living in the most deprived areas of England were less likely to be worried (54%). Women were more likely to be worried about climate change than men: almost 7 in 10 women (68%) compared with 6 in 10 men (60%).
Of those who reported being somewhat or very worried about the impact of climate change, around three-quarters (74%) said they were most concerned about the impact on future generations (Figure 1). This was highest among those aged 70 years and over (83%). Other common worries among those expressing concern included:
- the loss of natural habitats or wildlife (73%)
- changes to energy and food supplies (68%)
- the direct impact of extreme weather events or rising sea levels on other people (63%)
Adults in Great Britain who did not say they were somewhat or very worried about the impact of climate change were asked why they were not worried. The most common reason given was that there are other more urgent priorities to worry about, with over half (55%) of respondents reporting this.
Some 64% of adults in Great Britain have taken action to help tackle climate change in the past 12 months. Among these, the most common actions were making changes to shopping habits (40%) and travel (31%). People aged 30 to 49 years were more likely to make changes to their shopping habits, while those aged 70 years and over were less likely to do so. Over a third (36%) of adults had not taken any such actions.
Data from the OPN covering issues of concern to the public are updated fortnightly in our Public opinions and social trends series, and include thematic data on opinions and behaviours around climate change on an ad hoc basis.
Other public and opinion surveys from across the UK show that:
- 82% of people in Wales were concerned (fairly or very) about climate change in 2021 to 2022 (Climate Change and Health in Wales: Views from the public (PDF, 2.11MB))
- 82% of the Scottish public were concerned (fairly or very) about climate change, and 76% were concerned about its impacts on Scotland specifically (2022 Ipsos survey for ClimateXchange and the Scottish Government)
- “Climate change and ozone depletion” is the second-highest environmental issue of concern for households in Northern Ireland, after illegal dumping (Northern Ireland Environmental Statistics Report 2022)
Public attitudes on climate change and health
According to a survey commissioned by The Health Foundation, one-quarter (25%) of UK adults consider climate change to be one of the biggest threats to human health, the same level as for accidents and injuries, and mental health problems.
A Lancet article found that British health professionals who were surveyed expect the health issues that will become more frequent or more severe over the next 10 years because of climate change include:
- heat-related illnesses (81% of respondents)
- physical or mental harm from storms and flooding (82%)
- anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions (69%)
Over half (56%) of respondents to Public Health Wales’s Climate Change and Health in Wales: Views from the public (PDF, 2.11MB) survey believe climate change will have a mostly negative impact on human health in Wales. Some of the highest concerns about the potential health impacts of climate change in Wales were increased costs of heating a home (selected by 18% of respondents), greater costs of food (14%) and reduced access to health and care services (14%).
Further information is available here