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  • Overview
  • Nov '23
    Making sense of public opinion on climate impacts
  • National Trust report: A Resilience Bill could put adaptation on the same footing as mitigation
  • Oct '23
    Tracker data: What climate impacts are the public concerned about?
  • Report: How people of colour experience climate change in Britain
  • Sep '23
    Tracker data: Most people agree it will cost too much ‘not to tackle’ climate change
  • Climate Change Committee: How to help the UK public prepare for climate impacts
  • Summer 2023 was the hottest on record globally
  • May '23
    Research paper: Climate-induced migration is not a route to greater climate concern
  • Apr '23
    Tracker data: Gender divide in MPs’ beliefs about cost of climate impacts
  • Jan '23
    Guide: How to better communicate about heat risks
  • Dec '22
    Red Cross polling: UK public unaware of flood risks and what actions to take
  • Oct '22
    Research paper: Media portrayal of heatwaves undermines the seriousness of heat risks
  • Aug '22
    ACT Climate Labs: How to combat misinformation around extreme weather
  • Jul '22
    UK experiences temperatures above 40°C for the first time
  • IPPR narrative testing: Messages about impacts are one of the most persuasive arguments for action on climate change
  • Oct '21
    Climate Just map: Climate vulnerability in the UK
  • Oct '20
    Research paper: Feeling empowered and able to make a difference is key to engagement on adaptation
  • Mar '20
    Guide: Engaging the public on climate impacts and adaptation
  • Cardiff University polling: concern about heat risks has increased over the past decade but floods still top the risk table
  • Jan '20
    Environment Agency report: Low income households at greatest risk from flooding
  • Nov '19
    Report: Vulnerable people don’t feel they are at risk from heat
  • Nov '18
    ‘One thousand ways to experience loss’
Topic

Climate Impacts

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  • In Brief

    The UK is already experiencing serious climate impacts, including floods, storms, heatwaves and droughts. The 2015-16 winter floods alone cost the UK an estimated £1.6bn, and summer 2022 saw temperatures exceed 40C for the first time, resulting in the highest number of UK deaths from heat extremes. 

    The number of people who recognise that climate change is happening ‘here and now’ has steadily risen.

    But despite more and more extreme weather events taking place, a sense of disconnection remains in the UK: heatwaves continue to be represented in the media as positive occurrences, and the government’s advisers on adapting to climate change have repeatedly warned that the country is poorly prepared for the increased risks from floods, extreme heat, and storms.

    Few will have failed to notice global changes in extreme weather: floods wreaking destruction in Pakistan and North Africa; unprecedented wildfires in Canada.

    But are opinions keeping pace with a rapidly changing climate?

  • From the Climate Community 28th November 2023

    National Trust report: A Resilience Bill could put adaptation on the same footing as mitigation

    The National Trust – with a huge portfolio of land and historic properties that faces a wide range of risks from a changing climate – has released a report which includes a call for a new Climate Resilience Bill, putting adaptation on the same footing as mitigation (which they argue has a ‘unifying focus’ on net zero).

    Research shows that people beyond specialist circles do not make a clear distinction between mitigation and adaptation, and see worsening climate impacts as one of the most motivating reasons for decarbonising faster. When asked directly whether the UK government should prioritise adaptation or mitigation, the most popular answer (around half of the survey respondents) in a 2020 poll was that both should be of equal focus.

    • Author: National Trust
    • Date: 7th November 2023
    Climate Barometer Tracker 19th October 2023

    Tracker data: What climate impacts are the public concerned about?

    In terms of the impacts of extreme weather and climate change-related effects, the public is primarily concerned about: harm towards nature and wildlife, suffering and hardship for the world’s poorest, that their bills and costs may rise, and that some food will become unavailable.

    The public tend to see less connection between extreme weather and climate change and the effect on their physical and mental health, or ability to spend time outdoors or travel. Only 12% said they were worried climate change and extreme weather would lead to damage to their home.

    Opinion Insight 5th October 2023

    Report: How people of colour experience climate change in Britain

    A new report explores the personal experiences of climate change by people of colour in the UK.

    Charles Ogunbode and colleagues report that awareness (and reported experience) of climate change is high: 92% of British people of colour believe that climate change is happening, 61% report experiencing impacts of climate change, and 85% are really worried about the impact of climate change in places other than the UK.

    The impacts of climate change experienced by British people of colour in the UK include heat waves (over 60%), severe snow disruptions (25%) and flooding in their local area (20%).

    Beyond self-reported experiences of extreme weather, some disproportionate effects of climate change are harder to document – the report notes that London’s Black African and Caribbean population are the most exposed to air pollution, which causes approximately 40,000 deaths per year in the UK, and contributes to many adverse health conditions. 

    • Authors: Charles Ogunbode, Nick Anim, Jeremy Kidwell, Amiera Sawas, Serayna Solanki
    Climate Barometer Tracker 29th September 2023

    Tracker data: Most people agree it will cost too much ‘not to tackle’ climate change

    The majority of MPs and the public agree that “It will cost too much not to tackle climate change now and we should be prioritising it while we can still avoid the worst impacts”. A minority feel that “it will cost too much to tackle climate change now and we should be prioritising other things at a time when consumers can least afford it”.

    Policy Insight 11th September 2023

    Climate Change Committee: How to help the UK public prepare for climate impacts

    Reviewing research on climate adaptation behaviours, a report prepared by the CAST centre for the Climate Change Committee concluded that most people know very little about how they can prepare for changes such as extreme heat, droughts, or flooding. The authors highlight that it is important for politicians to clearly communicate what types of behaviours are most effective in preparing for a changing climate, and provide advice tailored to the type of risk, alongside other measures like financial incentives for homeowners.

    • Source: Climate Change Committee
    • Authors: Kaloyan Mitev, Lois Player, Caroline Verfuerth, Steve Westlake, Lorraine Whitmarsh
    • Date: 11th September 2023
    Wider Context 5th September 2023

    Summer 2023 was the hottest on record globally

    June-August 2023 was the “warmest on record globally by a large margin, with an average temperature of 16.77°C, 0.66°C above average.” In addition “August 2023 was the warmest August on record globally, and warmer than all other months except July 2023”.

    • Author: Copernicus
    • Date: 5th September 2023
    From the Climate Community 14th May 2023

    Research paper: Climate-induced migration is not a route to greater climate concern

    A paper by researchers in the USA has tested narratives about climate change and migration. They found that:

    …reading about climate-induced immigration (vs. immigration not linked to climate change) did not change participants’ climate concerns or climate policy support. Instead, reading about climate-induced immigration resulted in more negative attitudes toward immigrants.

    The research matches similar findings across the UK and Europe showing that attitudes towards migration can’t be used as a ‘tool’ to boost climate concern (and many argue on ethical grounds that the link shouldn’t be ‘weaponised’ in this way). At best they have no impact on climate policy support, and at worst, they can backfire by increasing anti-immigration sentiment.

    Climate Barometer Tracker 26th April 2023

    Tracker data: Gender divide in MPs’ beliefs about cost of climate impacts

    Our Climate Barometer Twin Tracker data suggests a gender divide in MP’s opinions about the costs of climate impacts.

    When asked about the cost of tackling climate change, the majority of female MPs agreed “It will cost too much not to tackle climate change now and we should be prioritising it while we can still avoid the worst impacts”.

    Less than half of male MPs chose this option in both years they were asked, with notably more male than female MPs saying “It will cost too much to tackle climate change now and we should be prioritising other things at a time when consumers can least afford it”.

    These results mirror wider trends in public surveys, which tend to show women hold heightened risk perceptions on a range of issues relative to men’s reduced concerns about different threats.

    Opinion Insight 2nd December 2022

    Red Cross polling: UK public unaware of flood risks and what actions to take

    According to a poll commissioned by the British Red Cross, four in five people (81%) don’t know where to get information on floods from, and one-in-seven people were aware of what actions to take in response to a flood. This is despite nearly 2 million people across the UK currently live in areas at significant risk of flooding – a number that could double by the 2050s.

     

    • Source: British Red Cross
    • Author: British Red Cross
    • Date: 2nd December 2022
    Media Insight 18th October 2022

    Research paper: Media portrayal of heatwaves undermines the seriousness of heat risks

    According to research on the media coverage of European heatwaves in 2019, the images appearing in news media about heatwaves and extreme heat generally depict people having “fun in the sun”, across the UK, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. People were depicted having fun in or near water, and enjoying the weather. When images did show the dangers of heat extremes, people were generally absent.

    The authors highlight this is a problematic way of showing heatwaves, because it removes the human element of extreme heat risk, and marginalises the experiences of those who are particularly vulnerable.

    • Authors: Saffron ONeill, Sylvia Hayes, Nadine Strauβ, Marie-Noëlle Doutreix, Katharine Steentjes, Joshua Ettinger, Ned Westwood, James Painter
    • Date: 18th October 2022
    Wider Context 22nd July 2022

    UK experiences temperatures above 40°C for the first time

    The summer of 2022 in the UK saw numerous temperature milestones breached. On 19th of July, 40.3°C was recorded at Coningsby, Lincolnshire, setting a new UK and England temperature record by a margin of 1.6°C, while multiple stations across England also exceeded 40°C.

    “This heatwave marked a milestone in UK climate history, with 40°C being recorded for the first time in the UK.”

    “The UK’s recent extreme heat was far more intense and widespread than previous comparable heatwaves”

    • Source: Met Office
    • Author: Met Office
    • Date: 22nd July 2022
    Opinion Insight 20th July 2022

    IPPR narrative testing: Messages about impacts are one of the most persuasive arguments for action on climate change

    Using a Randomised Control Trial methodology, 10 different narratives, framed around different themes, were tested in an online survey. A narrative emphasising the proximity of climate impacts was one of the best performing, especially in terms of increasing the ‘salience’ of climate change as an issue. The narrative included content emphasising:

    All over the world, climate change is already leading to dangerous weather events. Scientists agree that things will get worse if we don’t take action. In the UK, we could see coastal towns submerged by rising sea levels. Heat waves that threaten our food supply; flash floods which cause destruction on a scale never seen before. We still have time. But we simply have to change now if we want to protect our way of life for the future.

    The report argues that rather than focus on the so-called ‘co-benefits’ of climate action (e.g. green jobs) it is more effective to frame messages around the threat of climate impacts (as well as protecting future generations and showing global leadership).

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