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2024 summary & recommendations

People in Britain care about climate change and want to tackle it as a society.

Britain Talks Climate exists to help us better understand and engage with people’s priorities, questions and concerns. It helps us tell clearer, more compelling climate stories that resonate with people of different values and backgrounds.

Britain Talks Climate was first launched in 2020. Our 2024 research provides key updates and new insights. It paints an up-to-the-minute picture of people’s awareness and concern about climate change and nature loss, and reveals what they think about climate leadership.

We have asked people for their views on the roll out of specific climate policies such as public transport and home heating and compared opinions across the seven British segments.

We also have nationally representative results for Scotland and Wales to gain a deeper understanding of climate priorities and concerns across Britain’s nations.

In a year when we expect a General Election in the UK, BTC is our free, open access resource for anyone who wants to effectively understand how people in the UK think and feel about climate and nature.

Key findings

  • Appetite for leadership on climate and nature is strong and enduring. There is no demographic or segment that opposes tackling climate change and protecting nature.
  • Climate leadership offers a source of hope. People strongly believe it’s the government’s job to lead the way on climate. They feel hopeful about the prospect of government action and investment. Most are not convinced by the current government’s track record, but believe there’s still time to act.
  • People don’t want to be left alone to face and tackle climate change. People want to feel like they are part of a bigger change, not isolated individuals facing costs many worry they cannot afford. If change is (or feels) unfair, punitive or top-down, we have already seen that some will push back.

Key recommendations for governments and policy makers

1. Be clear that tackling climate change is a collective, national endeavour led by government.

People see climate leadership as the government’s job, and want leaders to crack on or even speed up. They do not want to be left alone to face and tackle it as isolated individuals.

Many are involved in personal and community level action – and feel a sense of pride in playing their part. But this research is clear: unless action is spearheaded and co-ordinated by governments, people will rightly question our ability to get emissions down everywhere, fast and fairly.

People need and want to hear a collective narrative from leaders. One that sets out the scale of the challenge and the opportunity for action – and shows how we can rise to it together.

2. Governments must make transition fair, taking responsibility for investment and funding.

It is non negotiable that the transition is fair, and feels fair.

People are worried that transition will cost them money they don’t have. This is true for all groups, even those most concerned about climate change.

Leaders must design policies that provide decent climate-friendly options to everyone, managing the costs for society and individuals. This means ensuring everyone has warmer homes, stable and affordable energy bills, and viable public transport options.

For climate-friendly options to feel normal and right for everyone, a wider range of people need to be able to access them, especially those on lower incomes. This must be a priority for policymakers.

3. Seize the huge opportunity to be innovative and bold in rolling out clean energy.

Renewable energy is very popular. And the more people experience it, the more we support it.

People support the UK government committing to spending billions of pounds on expanding renewable energy. They support their local authority giving permission to new local solar or wind projects in their neighbourhoods.

People with heat pumps are the most satisfied with their home heating system, and make great ambassadors for their wider roll-out. Helping a wider range of people to access – and advocate for – heat pumps will enable them to more quickly become normalised across society.

There is a huge opportunity to build on the strong support for clean energy by rolling out low-carbon, affordable energy to people across the country.

4. Listen, learn and respond genuinely to those most nervous about change.

People need to know what’s happening, why it’s happening and how it can be a good thing for their lives, their community and the country. Many people want to have had a say, or have had the option to.

All too often, most people don’t feel they’re given even basic information about changes that affect them directly. That’s the first thing to get right.

For those with the least trust in government, and most pressing day-to-day concerns that can make life feel very hard, leaders need to be far more proactive than they have been to date. The two ‘disengaged’ segments in our research aren’t opposed to tackling climate change – but they feel most excluded from the current climate conversation.

5. Develop a national plan to listen to and inspire the whole country on the climate transition.

Engaging people is mission critical. It’s not an optional add-on to the technical aspects of transition.

The very least people should expect is that they are given clear information about what changes mean for them – in their lives, workplaces and communities. Not everyone will actively seek this information out, so leaders need to be more creative and proactive in reaching the whole country.

Currently a large majority feel overlooked and uninformed about key aspects of transition. Communications and engagement efforts are not working as they need to. This matters, and has the potential to critically undermine support and trust.

At Climate Outreach we’re calling for the UK government to publish a national public engagement strategy setting out how everyone will be informed and involved in the transition.

“[The government] needs to give us much more information before they make us promises. They should understand what it is the people, the public want, not just the people with money - the people without money as well, the things that they need. They should just listen more. They should listen better.”

Focus group participant, Edinburgh

How to talk about climate leadership

1. Highlight the widespread support for leadership on climate and nature.

Right across society, people care about climate change and want the government to lead.

We don’t hear that story enough and this matters. It means we tend to assume other people don’t really care or support action. This has a chilling effect on what feels possible, and desirable.

The work of communicating climate change in 2024 is not making people more worried. The reality of climate change is already doing that – and there’s already a bedrock of concern.

People from all walks of life want a healthy environment and are ready to play their part. Talk about that.

2. Connect our British obsession with the weather to growing climate concern.

Highlight how normal it has become for Brits to be concerned about climate change. We’re a weather obsessed nation so we’re noticing floods and heatwaves – and we want the government to lead the way to a stable future.

Avoid fuelling the idea that some people know and care – and others don’t. Pretty much everyone is aware of the changing climate – and most people are concerned.

3. Talk about progress that’s already underway – and how it benefits people.

Climate change can feel overwhelming and unmanageable, and we can struggle to believe that the action we need is possible.

Show the ways people are already benefiting from things like cleaner energy, heat pumps and electric vehicles. Familiarity with these things leads to enthusiasm about wider roll-out.

Talk about what governments and businesses are already doing, and what they can do more of.

When pushing for more action, showcase the power of collective effort and the pride we feel when we play our part. Highlight the progress already underway and the potential for future gains.

4. Draw out the connections between a healthy climate, thriving nature and our own wellbeing.

People see the connection between climate change and nature. Many are highly motivated by the need to protect nature.

We increasingly recognise that our own health and wellbeing depends on the health of our planet.

Keep emphasising these connections.

5. Recognise that for a lot of people change can be scary, and times are very hard.

The last few years have been very hard for many people.

Climate communication works when it’s empathetic, not aggressive. When it offers something that feels real, workable and hopeful for people.

What to avoid when talking about climate leadership

1. Don’t fuel the idea that tackling climate change is all about more hardship and sacrifice.

Communicators need to be honest about the scale of ambition and change needed across society. But it is wrong to suggest that people need to pick between a healthy planet and a good, affordable life. It’s not true and it invites backlash, undermining support for climate action.

2. Avoid talk of drastic or draconian approaches.

People want to see more leadership and action to address climate change. But they need to feel that change is planned and well managed, not hasty and haphazard.

Support for climate leadership is robust, but not unshakable. When it’s framed as drastic, or is pitted against common sense and freedom, it can reduce people’s support.

Winning communication about climate leadership sounds reasonable, pragmatic and hopeful.

3. Don’t pit different aspects of the climate and nature crisis against each other.

When talking about less well understood aspects of the climate and nature crises, it can be tempting to compare them to other challenges, and show how much more they matter. This can be unhelpful.

Focus on connecting – not competing – challenges and opportunities for action.

See The Big Picture: How people are relating to climate change in 2024.

A 2024 overview of the seven segments can be found here.

More findings from Scotland and Wales.

More segment specific findings across each segment page; Progressive Activists, Civic Pragmatists, Established Liberals, Loyal Nationals, Disengaged Battlers, Disengaged Traditionalists & Backbone Conservatives.

Continue exploring

The big picture: How people are relating to climate change in 2024


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