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Majority say climate change will influence their general election vote - poll

Rui Vieira/PA Wire

By Emily Beament, PA Environment Correspondent

More than half of people say climate change will influence the way they vote in the next general election, a survey suggests.

Almost two thirds (63%) agree that politicians are not discussing the issue of climate change enough in the run up to the next national vote, the poll for environmental lawyers ClientEarth found.

Against a backdrop of protests by Extinction Rebellion and school strikers calling for more urgent efforts to tackle rising temperatures, seven in 10 people think the climate emergency demands more swift action.

Some 58% say the Government is not doing enough on the issue, and there is also pressure on investors, with three in five (59%) thinking financial institutions and banks should no longer invest in fossil fuels.

And 55% expect their own pension and other investment funds to avoid fossil fuel projects that contribute to global warming - and almost as many (52%) would consider switching if their fund was too exposed to coal, oil and gas.

Many would like to see their pension funds and financial institutions actively support the transition to a sustainable economy and to consider the climate impacts of the companies they invest in.

Two thirds (65%) thought fossil fuel companies should help pay for the billions of pounds in damages from extreme weather events caused by climate change.

More than half think the UK is already experiencing impacts of climate change including more extreme weather, hotter and longer heatwaves, sea level rises and storm surges, increased flooding, air pollution and species extinction.

A majority also think climate change is also causing political instability in the UK.

The poll of more than 2,000 people for ClientEarth by Opinium found 54% thought climate change would greatly or somewhat influence who they were likely to vote for in the next general election.

People were supportive of bringing forward the 2050 deadline to cut UK greenhouse gases to net zero and for a "green new deal" or "green industrial revolution" with large-scale, long-term investment in green jobs and infrastructure.

The top priorities people had for the Government to limit further climate change were planting trees, making homes more energy efficient and investing more into renewable energy.

The Government should also do more to drive the use of low-emission vehicles such as electric cars, according to 61% of those quizzed.

ClientEarth lawyer Jonathan Church said: "From the student strikes to Extinction Rebellion, people across the UK are demanding greater action to address the climate crisis.

"Importantly these demands appear strong enough to make a difference at the next election, with more than half of adults saying that climate change will impact how they cast their vote."

ClientEarth finance lawyer Joanne Etherton added: "Too many banks, pension funds and insurers are propping up fossil fuel giants.

"The way the financial world responds to the climate crisis will be make or break for the health of our planet.

People have clearly shown their appetite for action to tackle climate change and it's now over to financial institutions to respond," she said.

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