On climate we have grown used to inaction. Should we look to markets or farming reform to unlock the discussion?by Stephanie Boland / May 9, 2019 / Leave a comment
Over the past few weeks, anyone who has so much as passed through Westminster will have noticed Extinction Rebellion’s colourful protests. Blockading the roads into Parliament Square, this “bunch of hippies” (as one activist jokingly termed them) set up bunting, tents and bright yellow banners hung from trees—to the amusement of tourists but frustration of the police, who, the activist told me, couldn’t climb high enough to remove at least one banner at the end of the protest.
As for London’s commuters, reactions were mixed: some enjoyed a unexpectedly pedestrianised shopping trip while others bemoaned bus delays. But YouGov’s national polling was clearer: the majority of Britons opposed the protests, with only 36 per cent in favour.
This is in spite of the fact that the latest British Social Attitudes Survey shows that over 90 per cent of Britons believe climate change is “definitely or probably” happening, with 18- to 34-year-olds particularly likely to believe it is down to human activity (46 per cent) and to be very or extremely worried about it (32 per cent). Perhaps it’s the road closures that put people off.
The BSA shows another belief: people don’t think that enough governments will take action to make a difference. Asking Brits how likely—on 0-10 scale—they think it is that there will be international government action gives an average score of 4.3, implying inaction is still widely assumed.
So what is it people would like to happen? For our special environment policy report, Conservative MP Antoinette Sandbach suggests a free market approach, pointing out that new green energy tariffs have been driven by market demand. Labour’s Kerry McCarthy, meanwhile, points to a specific sector in which changes could be made: farming. From food waste to meat-related emissions, it’s an area with clear scope for improvement—and could perhaps even gain public backing. Meat-free Monday, anyone?