UK sees climate change as more important than Brexit

Despite the messy negotiations of Brexit — i.e. Britain leaving the European Union — United Kingdom citizens believe that climate change is a more important issue and should be a top priority to the newly-appointed Prime Minister Boris Johnson, according to a new survey.

London’s skyline. Credit: Wikipedia Commons


Up to 71% of the UK public agreed that climate change would be more important than the country’s departure from the EU in the long term, the ComRes survey showed. Six out of 10 adults said the government was not doing enough to prioritize the climate crisis. The study, commissioned by Christian Aid, found that women and young people were more likely to say that action over climate change is a more pressing priority than issues around Brexit. The trend was also more pronounced on residents from Wales and the East Midlands.

“It’s clear that beyond the present political turmoil, UK adults know there is a bigger crisis which is potentially catastrophic for the whole of humanity – particularly some of the world’s poorest people, who are more vulnerable to the effects of this climate emergency,” Christian Aid’s director of advocacy Laura Taylor said.

Almost two-thirds (61%) of respondents said the Conservative Government led by Johnson is not doing enough to prioritize climate actions, despite its recent setting of a net-zero goal for 2050. Key concerns voiced included a lack of policy around decarbonizing transport.

When taking office this week, Johnson gave an inaugural speech and briefly mentioned the environment. He said Britain was “leading the world in the battery technology that will help cut CO2 and tackle climate change and produce green jobs for the next generation”.

“I hope the Prime Minister will hear the challenge from the majority of the UK public to do more to tackle this climate emergency. We need a rapid and radical shift to reduce emissions in the UK and we need global action for climate justice in which the most vulnerable communities are supported,” said Taylor.

The survey came at the same time the UK tries to solve its exit from the EU, now with a new Prime Minister. The UK voted to leave the EU through a referendum in 2016, with leave winning with 51.6% of the votes. Since then, the exit has proven more difficult than initially expected.

The UK was supposed to leave the EU on 29 March 2019, two years after it started the exit process. But the withdrawal agreement reached between the EU and the UK has been rejected three times by UK MPs. A six-month extension was now granted until 31 October.

The consequences will likely be severe. The UK government has projected that in 15 years, the country’s economy will be anywhere from 4 percent to 9 percent smaller under Brexit than it would inside the bloc, depending on the exit arrangement. Europe is Britain’s most important export market and its biggest source of foreign investment.

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