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'Majority' of UK public remains worried about global warming

04 August 2015

A survey commissioned by the IMechE has found that 57 percent of the public are worried about global warming, with 14 percent saying they were ‘very worried’.

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The poll of over 2,000 members of the public by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and ICM Unlimited found that 64 percent of people think global warming is already a problem now, while 70 percent said they think global warming will be a problem in 20 years’ time. The main issues the respondents said they were worried about were flooding and sea level rises (63 percent), extreme weather like hurricanes and cyclones (60 percent), and droughts and water shortages (53 percent).

“Since the 2008 economic crash, climate change has drifted down the political agenda," says Dr Jenifer Baxter, the IMechE's head of Energy and Environment. "But these results show that it is an issue that still worries the majority of people. As we’ve seen in recent years, the UK is particularly susceptible to flooding and sea level rises, and this is something we are likely to see more of unless urgent action is taken to prevent and adapt to climate change.

“With the UN climate change talks in Paris just four months away and speculation mounting over cuts to public spending, Government needs to clarify how the UK will meet its ambitious carbon reduction targets. The cheapest options for energy generally remain the high carbon options.  It’s therefore an unfortunate reality that reducing spending will mean increasing emissions.

“By allowing the market to drive energy options, we could end up with the ‘worst case’ in terms of pollution.  It is important that the Government works with experts across the sector to understand the most appropriate market intervention and regulation to achieve real reductions in CO2.

“Government needs to detail how it will step up efforts to wind-down coal-fired generation, which produces much more CO2 than gas or nuclear power plants, and support research and development into the new generation of renewable energy technologies.”

The survey asked people which methods they think are the most effective method for combating man-made climate change with 25 percent saying changing to energy sources that produce less carbon dioxide; 15 percent suggested switching all electricity production to renewable sources and 15 percent said cutting down energy consumption. Only 6 percent of those surveyed said that geo-engineering would be the most effective method.

Despite the concerns for the impact of global warming, 52 percent of the people surveyed said they did not think we should pay more tax on products that cause more pollution and carbon emissions, compared to 48 percent who said they should.

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