Ready to deal with another crisis? Prospects for attitudes towards climate change in the post-Covid-19 world

Curtice, John (2020) Ready to deal with another crisis? Prospects for attitudes towards climate change in the post-Covid-19 world. IPPR Progressive Review, 27 (2). pp. 204-214. ISSN 2573-2331 (

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The COVID19 pandemic has served as a salutary reminder of the potential fragility of our relationship with nature. It has forced us as individuals to accept unprecedented constraints on our ability to go about our everyday business, including not least our ability to travel long distances by car or on a plane, while governments have found themselves intervening in the economy in a fashion not seen since wartime. The decline in air pollution that has occurred in the wake of less movement across the globe has reminded us of the impact that our economic activity has on the environment. Yet, despite the fact that there is widespread concern in Britain about the impact of climate change, it will not necessarily be easy in the post-COVID world to persuade voters to take the individual actions or support the collective policies that are widely thought necessary to reverse the increase in global temperatures. In this paper, we examine recent attitudes towards climate change as revealed by a number of polls and surveys conducted during the course of the last decade. We begin by examining how many voters are concerned about climate change and whether concern has become more commonplace. We then turn to the crucial issue of the extent to which people believe that climate change/global warming are the product of human activity, and where responsibility for tacking action to deal with it is thought to lie. Thereafter, we examine attitudes towards both the collective and individual actions that might be taken to counteract global warming, and the extent to which these attitudes reflect their level of concern about the impact of human activity on the climate. We conclude by considering the implications for dealing with climate change in the post-COVID world.