With the dust now settling on COP26 and the responsibilities of nation states, the focus now shifts to governments delivering upon the commitments they have made.
But the role of the public must not be overlooked or underestimated. Data from the ‘Nature Positive?’ research shows that the UK public is ready and willing to change its behaviour to protect and enhance the environment.
‘Nature Positive?, published by Bright Blue, the independent think tank, and supported by WSP, one of the UK’s largest environmental consultancies, analyses public attitudes towards the UK’s environment and the responsibility of different stakeholders for its protection.
The report states that the decline of the natural environment is an urgent crisis and interlinked with climate change, requiring urgent attention and action.
Find a link to the report here.
Key conclusions from the survey of 2,000 people across the UK shows:
- Half of the public (50%) are cycling more or considering doing to get from A to B;
- Over four-in-five (83%) are walking more or considering doing so.
- A third said they are already reducing their consumption of meat (32%);
- A quarter (24%) have already reduced their consumption of dairy products.
- Nearly half (47%) said they were willing to pay more for sustainable clothing;
- A similar number (46%) said they would pay more for sustainable food;
- Over two-in-five (44%) said they’d pay more for products in non-sustainable packaging.
- Nearly four in five (77%) people are either already growing plants which insects can thrive on or are considering doing so;
- Two-thirds (66%) are putting up nest boxes for birds, and a third (32%) are considering volunteering for environmental causes.
David Symons, UK Director of Sustainability at WSP, said: “Government doesn’t need to shy away from asking the public to change behaviour and protect the environment. Our study shows the public is already taking action - and are up to do more.
“Mobilising residents to take action in their local areas is a key opportunity from this study. With resources tight across government, drawing on the power of communities to act has to be an essential way to improve nature, health and build communities.”
Patrick Hall, Senior Research Fellow at Bright Blue and report author, said: “When thinking about how public policy can shape behaviour, the Government should consider that the UK public marginally favours interventionist policies for protecting the natural environment. The Government needn't be hesitant; our research shows that conservation policy holds wide public support.”
Other key findings
- POLICY: Over half (59%) of the UK public prefers bans on products which are harmful to the natural environment, in comparison to 41% who prefer financial incentives from government for individuals to make more sustainable choices.
- RESPONSIBILITY: Only a third (32%) of the public believes that local authorities are doing enough to protect and enhance the natural environment in the UK, and this falls to 28% for the UK Government.
- Three in five (62%) believe charities and voluntary groups doing enough to protect and enhance the natural environment. Over two in five (44%) believe businesses are not doing enough to protect and enhance the natural environment.
- BENEFITS: A majority of people value the mental wellbeing (60%) and improved physical wellbeing (54%) benefits of natural environments.
- If given £1,000 to spend on improving the natural environment, a majority of people (53%) would spend it on their own property or their local neighbourhood.
Methodology: Savanta ComRes interviewed 2,148 adults in England online from the 25th March to the 30th March 2021. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of the UK by age, gender, region, and social grade. Savanta ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.