One third of Brits are sceptical or have no opinion on climate change and 44 per cent believe that wildlife can adapt to rising temperatures.
In a new survey conducted by one of Europe’s top science centres, Universcience, British citizens give an updated insight on how they view and practice science, how they get their information, who they trust regarding this topic, and what their opinions are concerning the climate crisis .
The first edition of the Critical Thinking Barometer was conducted in 2022 in France and it has been extended to the UK for its second edition, offering an interesting comparative of both countries, as well as an insight into how the British population understands climate change and its mechanisms.
While the existence of indisputable scientific consensus on climate change is widely accepted in the UK (70 per cent), many respondents to the survey still believe that there is no consensus (19 per cent) or have no opinion (11 per cent).
The reasons for this phenomenon are not identified with certainty by a significant portion of the surveyed individuals: while 66 per cent of British respondents believe that the CO2 produced by human activities is the main cause of climate change, nearly one quarter disagrees and more than one in ten have no opinion.
Proposals that strongly relativise the climate crisis are adhered to by a considerable proportion of respondents, although in the minority: 44 per cent of British respondents consider that, although temperatures are rising, wildlife is capable of adapting, and for a quarter of the respondents, the recent cold snaps in the US show that there is no climate change .
To address the climate crisis, the idea that small acts are impactful is widely shared: 78 per cent believe that these actions can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Parallel to these individual actions, British citizens have high expectations of companies: 64 per cent believe that they must be the first to act against the climate crisis as the main actors responsible for it.
Technical solutions are widely adhered to in the UK: three quarters of British respondents believe that abandoning fossil fuels is an effective remedy to reduce human impact on the environment. A large majority also trust in technological innovations to provide solutions to climate change.
As to who they trust on the matter, unfortunately no groups of actors that can give their view on climate change are able to inspire great confidence. Scientists are those who British respondents trust the most: 49 per cent trust scientists specialized in climate matters, and 39 per cent trust the majority of other general scientists. Four in ten British respondents trust the majority of science culture museums and centres, but science YouTubers struggle to convince them (15 per cent). They are however more trusting of their close circle: nearly one third of British citizens trust their friends and colleagues when talking about the climate crisis.