Contemporary public views of climate change and biodiversity loss in the UK

26 May 2023

Our comprehensive report examines contemporary public perspectives on climate change and biodiversity loss in the United Kingdom. The literature review was commissioned in collaboration with the Natural History Museum, the Natural Environmental Research Council, and the British Science Association. 

Key findings 

The report highlights that more than 83% of UK citizens express substantial concern about climate change, with a notable 45% being 'very concerned.' This concern has increased significantly over the last decade. However only 51% recognize human activity as the primary driver of climate change, and while climate concern is widespread, regional and educational differences strongly influence views on the topic. 

Awareness of biodiversity loss is lower than that of climate change, with only 49% of the public having engaged with the concept. There is also a gap in understanding accelerated biodiversity loss due to human activity. 

The public sees environmental action as a shared responsibility, with the government playing a vital leadership role. Despite willingness, individual lifestyle changes to combat climate change face implementation barriers, in particular with there being a substantial gap between what individuals say they’d change and what they actually do. 

The report suggests eight key principles for effective public engagement, emphasising inclusivity, positive messaging, value-based motivations and applying a local context to information. It also highlights the need for scientists as public communicators and innovative models for engagement, such as citizens' assemblies and technology-driven approaches. 

For further insights download the full report (PDF).