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  • Overview
  • Dec '23
    COP28 calls for “transition away from fossil fuels”. Does the UK public agree?
  • Nov '23
    Tracker data: Nearly half of British public support climate compensation
  • Comment: Are international climate negotiations on the public’s radar?
  • Tracker data: MPs and the public support high ambition on climate
  • Tracker data: MPs and public support climate finance to vulnerable countries
  • Carbon Brief resource: Who wants what at the COP28 climate change summit?
  • Tracker data: Public and MPs believe in the effectiveness of working together to tackle climate crisis
  • Ipsos MORI polling ahead of COP28 shows limited public confidence that conference commitments will lead to climate action
  • Nov '22
    Ahead of COP27, UK public sceptical that the conference would speed up climate action
  • COP27 polling: Few see Rishi Sunak as showing leadership, but most support climate funds for poorer nations
  • May '22
    COP26: What the public heard
  • Nov '21
    Media analysis: News of protests at COP26 outstripped coverage of the conference itself
  • Oct '21
    UK government hosts the annual UN climate Conference of the Parties (COP26)
  • Global Scan polling: Most Britons want global leadership by the government on climate
  • Development Engagement Lab: Britons have greater awareness of COP26 than other countries
  • Sep '21
    Climate Outreach report: Loyal Nationals see climate change as a shared global responsibility
Topic

International Negotiations

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  • In Brief

    The UN climate conference – COP – takes place annually. It attracts international political leaders, activists, lobbyists and journalists, with the conference focused on progressing global agreements and cooperation on climate change. Not only do the COPs act as major policy milestones, but they are potentially important moments for public engagement too.

    They form a focal point for what climate movements around the world demand of their governments, and are major climate communication ‘moments’ in and of themselves, often marking a major uptick of media coverage and campaign activity.

    The public recognise that climate change is a problem that can only be solved through international cooperation, and want to see global leadership by the UK government. Our Climate Barometer tracker shows that both the public and MPs think the UK should be one of the most ambitious countries in the world on climate change.

    But the picture is more mixed in terms of the faith people have in major international gatherings to deliver on their promises. And although COPs take up a huge amount of bandwidth for the climate movement, its not clear that the public is always paying attention.

    This thread brings together insights on opinion about international negotiations with key discourses and developments around the annual COP cycle.

  • Climate Barometer Tracker 30th November 2023

    Tracker data: Nearly half of British public support climate compensation

    According to our Climate Barometer Tracker, 48% of the public agree with the idea that “wealthy countries, with a history of high greenhouse gas emissions, should provide compensation to poorer countries for damages caused by the climate crisis”. By breaking this down by political voting behaviour, we see that the majority of this comes from Labour voters – with 65% agreeing. Of Conservative voters, 35% agree (and roughly equal numbers disagree) with the statement.

    MPs, however, show a starker contrast, with Labour MPs in majority agreement (61%) and Conservative MPs in majority disagreement (58%).

    Climate Barometer Tracker 23rd November 2023

    Tracker data: MPs and the public support high ambition on climate

    Both MPs and the public believe the UK should be one of the most ambitious countries in the world when it comes to addressing climate change, regardless of what other countries are doing, with slightly higher support among MPs. Only a minority say that the UK should not take steps to address climate change until other bigger countries like the US and China agree to do the same.

    Questions like this help to position the way in which the ‘wind is blowing’ on the UK’s international climate efforts – its important that large numbers of people are not disagreeing with the principle of high ambition. At the same time, endorsements like this can’t readily be translated into specific commitments at international negotiations, where the geopolitics of negotiating blocs, with very different priorities and perspectives, takes centre stage.

    Climate Barometer Tracker 23rd November 2023

    Tracker data: MPs and public support climate finance to vulnerable countries

    According to our tracker data, both MPs and the public show substantial levels of support for helping poor and vulnerable countries respond to climate change, with consistently higher proportions of MPs supporting this policy. Public support is slightly higher now (41%) a year on from when we first asked about this (36%) in October 2022. However, there has been a notable downward trend in MPs support across that period too.

    Policy Insight 21st November 2023

    Carbon Brief resource: Who wants what at the COP28 climate change summit?

    Carbon Brief has produced an interactive table of ‘who wants what’ from the COP28 UN climate change negotiations, searchable by topic and across different negotiating groups.

    Climate Barometer Tracker 15th November 2023

    Tracker data: Public and MPs believe in the effectiveness of working together to tackle climate crisis

    Climate Barometer tracker data from shows that the majority of the public (70%) and MPs (76%) agree “we can succeed in reducing the negative impacts of climate change by working together and acting collectively”. While not policy specific, this sentiment shows that both the public and MPs highly value the principle of cooperating together to tackle the climate crisis, with clear relevance to the aims and process of international negotiations.

    Opinion Insight 15th November 2023

    Ipsos MORI polling ahead of COP28 shows limited public confidence that conference commitments will lead to climate action

    In polling commissioned by the Press Association, ahead of COP28 in Dubai, Ipsos MORI asked people whether they thought the commitments made at the event would lead to climate action.

    47% believed this was unlikely, whilst only 17% gave a more optimistic answer.

    These finding reflect a sense of cynicism that was present before last year’s event in Egypt (which Rishi Sunak eventually attended, but was criticised for initially avoiding), and strikingly low levels of trust in politicians on climate issues.

    To the extent that this level of detail registers with public audiences (the same IPSOS poll found only 32% will follow the news around COP28 closely this year, and 61% would not follow the event’s progress), the optics and contradictions of a city famous for its oil-wealth hosting the UN’s flagship climate event is also likely to be playing a role in muting public expectations about the credibility of the conference.

    • Source: The Independent
    • Author: Press Association/Ipsos MORI
    • Date: 3rd November 2023
    Opinion Insight 11th November 2022

    Ahead of COP27, UK public sceptical that the conference would speed up climate action

    Polling by Omnisis around the time of COP27 in Egypt found that 53% of people in the UK did not think the event would do anything to speed up international action on climate change. Only 29% felt that it would speed up action.

    In the wake of uncertainty about whether new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak would attend in person, discussion in the Conservative leadership election of rowing back on net zero commitments, and perhaps reflecting the dominance of protest coverage at COP26 (which challenged the legitimacy of COP negotiations), cynicism about the value of UN conferences seems to have increased from the relatively optimistic perspectives captured during COP26 in Glasgow.

    • Author: Omnisis
    • Date: 11th November 2022
    Opinion Insight 11th November 2022

    COP27 polling: Few see Rishi Sunak as showing leadership, but most support climate funds for poorer nations

    According to polling by Omnisis, less than a quarter of the UK public (24%) think Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is showing leadership on climate change, in the context of hesitation around attendance at COP27.

    This stands in contrast with the desire held by most Britons for the UK to show climate leadership and be one of the most ambitious countries in the world on climate change.

    The same survey found broad support for the government funding climate action in less wealthy nations overseas.

    When asked “Does the UK have a responsibility to fund climate action in poorer nations now suffering from climate-related extreme weather disasters?”, 49% said yes, while 31% said no. 29% say they did not know.

    This aligns with data from our Climate Barometer tracker, which shows high levels of support for wealthy nations providing compensation to poorer countries for damages caused by the climate crisis.

    • Author: Omnisis
    • Date: 11th November 2022
    From the Climate Community 18th May 2022

    COP26: What the public heard

    Media analysis by Climate Outreach suggests that international negotiations are key events not only for policy, but in shaping public attitudes on climate:

    “The annual UN conference provides a yearly focus point for climate media stories, events and activists. While the focus is on policy making, this can have a significant associated impact on how citizens view and understand the issues being discussed. For example the perceived failure of COP15 in Copenhagen is associated with a significant downturn in public climate concern. Understanding the interplay between different elements within the plethora of coverage is crucial for public engagement.

    Our analysis indicates that publics in general were engaged by COP26 and the majority felt more optimistic about chances of dealing with the climate change challenge by the end. Yet it is noticeable that there were marked differences in the dominant narratives between traditional media and those most loudly heard on social media and at cultural events. Does this matter? One possibility is that it doesn’t – and that as the climate conversation grows, it’s natural and right that differences of opinion will remain. But from a communications perspective, mixed messaging may impact on how people understand and relate to climate change – which could undermine effectiveness.”

    • Source: Climate Outreach
    • Author: Jamie Clarke
    • Date: 18th May 2022
    Media Insight 15th November 2021

    Media analysis: News of protests at COP26 outstripped coverage of the conference itself

    In analysis by Kantar, coverage of protests at COP26 was found to have outstripped coverage of the conference itself (in traditional media).

    On social media, Geta Thunberg was one of the biggest presences on Twitter, driving engagement with traditional coverage of COP26 protests.

    What the public ‘sees’ at climate conferences can shape wider climate beliefs – and although there was small but significant increase in public optimism during the course of COP26, the dominance of protests in traditional and social media is likely to have conveyed an overall impression of the conference as a ‘problem’ (to be protested against) rather than part of the solution.

    • Date: 15th November 2021
    Wider Context 31st October 2021

    UK government hosts the annual UN climate Conference of the Parties (COP26)

    Opinion Insight 27th October 2021

    Global Scan polling: Most Britons want global leadership by the government on climate

    Polling by Global Scan, which carried out surveys in 31 countries ahead of COP26, found that:

    • In the UK, 62% of people want the government to play a leadership role in setting ambitious targets.
    • This was higher than the average across 31 countries and territories polled – 56 percent of people on average want their government to play a leadership role in setting ambitious targets.
    • In the UK, only 4% of people do not support the creation of an international agreement on climate change.
    • Source: GlobeScan | Know your world. Lead the future.
    • Author: Global Scan
    • Date: 27th October 2021
    Opinion Insight 27th October 2021

    Development Engagement Lab: Britons have greater awareness of COP26 than other countries

    Research by the Development Engagement Lab found that around the time of COP26, held in Glasgow:

    • Awareness and knowledge of the COP-26 climate conference was low across four countries where polling was carried out (GB, France, US and Germany)
    • However, it was highest in Britain, where more than one-third (35%) say they have heard and know what it is about – reflecting the fact that the UK was the host country
    • Authors: Jennifer Hudson, Paolo Morini, David Hudson
    • Date: 27th October 2021

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