UK

Quarter of public oppose ban on petrol and diesel cars by 2030, poll finds

A poll of environmental attitudes in seven European countries identified opposition to a ban on new diesel and petrol vehicles after 2030, despite widespread concerns about climate change.

In Britain, 76% of those polled said they were either very or fairly concerned about climate change, but 27% indicated opposition to a ban on new petrol or diesel vehicles.

In Germany, where 70% of participants expressed concern about climate change, 50% opposed such a ban – the highest of the seven countries surveyed: Britain, Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden, Spain and Italy.

The polling was carried out in August by the YouGov-Cambridge Centre for Public Opinion Research, with 9,000 people answering questions.

More than 90% of participants in each of the countries said that they eat meat.

The number claiming they had reduced their meat consumption in the last 12 months was 24% in Britain, and ranged from 17% in Sweden to 36% in France.

In Britain, 49% indicated support for a new tax on flights linked to how frequently people fly, and 70% said they would support a national rewilding programme to restore parts of the country to their natural state.

A separate poll, conducted last week, indicated that less than a third of British adults had read or heard much about Cop26 – the UN climate talks which the UK is hosting in Glasgow in November.

Just 31% of the 1,659 adults surveyed said they had read or heard “a lot” or “a fair amount” about it, compared with 63% who answered either “not very much” or “nothing at all”.

Dr Emily Shuckburgh, director of Cambridge Zero, the university’s climate change initiative, said: “As the impacts of climate change are starting to be felt everywhere, Cop26 should be seen as a vital summit where the world must deliver immediate and meaningful climate action.

“But the bad news is that most people have still barely noticed that the world leaders who can actually take the actions needed will be in our own backyard.”

Dr Joel Rogers de Waal, academic director of YouGov, said: “The good news for COP26 organisers is that in every country surveyed, the vast majority are on board with the programme, at least in principle.

“In each national sample, most agreed that climate change is a genuine phenomenon and a considerable concern, and rejected the idea that its seriousness is being exaggerated.”

In Britain, 66% supported the policy of tripling Government investment in renewable energy, such as solar, wind and tidal power.

Only France was an outlier in this respect, where just 24% said the same.

Additional polling for the project at the start of September asked British voters two questions regarding Extinction Rebellion – one about methods, the other about message.

Of 1,653 people polled in the UK, 53% said that Extinction Rebellion generally go too far with their methods used, with just 10% saying they got the balance right and 7% saying they did not go far enough.

Some 38% thought the environmental warnings of Extinction Rebellion generally overstate the situation, with 32% saying that they describe the situation about right and 9% saying that they understate it.

Dr de Waal said: “The most powerful protest movements are those that ultimately manage to inspire and co-opt the wider population, creating a sense of social momentum that becomes impossible for the political centre to ignore.

“By contrast, acts of civic vandalism that specifically target the basic necessities of daily life are more likely to do the opposite, since by infuriating the public, they only make it easier for governments to ignore the message behind the action.”

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