Research from the University of Manchester suggests that most people are willing to continue with low carbon lifestyle choices adopted during lockdown even though restrictions are easing.
Academics have admitted to being surprised by the findings of two UK-wide surveys which show that public concern over climate change has increased during the global pandemic.
The researchers had expected to see a drop in climate concern because worries over one major issue can often reduce concern over other issues. In the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, for example, there was a documented decline in belief in climate change.
Increase in ‘climate concern’
However, the surveys - which were carried out in May by Manchester and Cardiff researchers at the UK Centre for Climate and Social Transformation (CAST) - found the opposite. Perceived urgency of tackling climate change had increased compared to August last year, with concern over climate change only slightly lower than concern about COVID-19.
Support for actions that could mitigate climate change, such as decreasing meat consumption and flying, have also increased. According to the surveys, more people intend to reduce the amount they fly post-lockdown (47 per cent) than plan to increase it (8.3 per cent) or go back to pre-lockdown levels (45 per cent).
Participants also reported that they are now more likely to turn off lights and unused appliances, and heat their home to a lower temperature on cold days.
‘Low carbon practices have taken hold'
Dr Claire Hoolohan, research fellow at the University of Manchester, said: “Our findings illustrate that the restructuring of everyday life that has occurred since lockdown was implemented has allowed low carbon practices to take hold.
“The question that faces society now, is how do we recover from COVID-19 in a way that means society is healthier, happier and more sustainable than before. This is a challenge that policy makers, businesses, and other organisations must all rise to if we are to lock-in low-carbon lifestyles.”
A separate national survey in June found that businesses could help to remove one in five car commutes from the road by supporting remote working for those who have been working from home during the pandemic and would like to continue doing so.
Posted under General Interest on 26 August 2020