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‘Three-quarters of Britons worried about climate change’

The Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior makes its way up the River Clyde, near Greenock, Scotland, carrying four young climate activists from areas affected by climate change, on the first day of the Cop26 summit in Glasgow. Pic by Andrew Milligan

By Sophie Wingate, PA

Three-quarters of adults in Britain are worried about climate change, according to a new survey.

More than 80% of people questioned by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in October, just ahead of the Cop26 climate summit, reported having made eco-friendly lifestyle changes, such as throwing away less food.

Those who said they are concerned about climate change were three times more likely to have made a lot of changes to help tackle the issue, according to the survey.

More than 40% of those polled reported feeling anxious about the future of the environment.

Women are more likely than men to be worried about the impact of climate change – with eight in 10 saying they are concerned.

They are also more likely to feel anxiety and to have made changes to their lifestyle (85%) than men (77%).

People aged 25 to 34 are most likely to feel “very worried” about climate change, with 37% saying they do, compared with just under a quarter of over-70s.

Only a quarter of respondents said they are unworried or ambivalent about global warming, with many of them saying they do not know much about the issue or that there are more urgent problems to deal with.

Of the fifth of adults who have made no lifestyle changes, most believe that their actions would make no difference and that large polluters should change before individuals.

The survey also asked people to describe their feelings about the future of the environment.

Common themes in respondents’ answers included concern for their family and future generations, alarm, frustration and helplessness.

“(I’m) concerned for what we are leaving our younger generation to cope with,” one said.

Another wrote: “I think the future is pretty bleak as so much damage has already been done.”

Another respondent said: “I feel dread, anxiousness and hopelessness. Then I feel energised to do something.”

The survey’s findings come as Cop26 talks continue in Glasgow.

Countries are under pressure to increase ambition on cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change, to avoid the worst impacts of global warming, and to ensure financing for poor countries to tackle the crisis.

Youth activists including Greta Thunberg are taking to the Scottish city’s streets on Friday to demand action on climate change from leaders and politicians.

– The ONS’s Opinions and Lifestyle Survey was carried out between October 6 and 17, with respondents in Great Britain aged 16 and over.

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