Accessibility statement

Majority of people recognise urgency of climate change, research suggests

Posted on 19 September 2019

More than 60% of people recognise that addressing climate change requires a ‘high’ or ‘extremely high’ level of urgency, new research involving scientists at the University of York suggests.

The authors of the research, who are all part of a new centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations (CAST), surveyed more than two thousand people in August 2019 in order to assess public perceptions of climate change.

Two-thirds of people (67%) also felt that we should limit air travel in order to address climate change, whereas only 22% felt we do not need to do so.

Eating meat

Just over half of the respondents (53%) were of the view that we should reduce the amount of meat in our diets to address climate change, whereas 37% felt we do not need to do so.

They found that the majority of people surveyed (61%) supported the UK Parliament’s declaration of a ‘climate emergency’, with only 11% opposing this.

The new research findings have been released on 18 September, 2019, to coincide with the launch of the CAST Centre.

Living differently

The £5 million research centre will explore how we can live differently in order to tackle climate change and is a collaboration between the universities of York, Cardiff, Manchester and East Anglia and the charity Climate Outreach.

The Centre’s aims have recently been praised by climate activist Greta Thunberg who described CAST as ‘extremely important and essential’ to helping achieve the drastic changes in our lifestyles to combat the climate crisis.

Professor Hilary Graham from the Department of Health Sciences said: “Public concern about climate change is growing – and rightly so. This survey shows that most people recognise it as an urgent issue and are willing to make significant lifestyle changes to help find solutions.

“CAST will turn the spotlight on how to mobilise action at every level of society to address the biggest challenge of the 21st century.”


CAST is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. Professor Jennifer Rubin, executive chair of the Economic and Social Research Council, said: “This is a really important Centre to be funding because of its strong focus on developing and testing effective approaches to communicating climate change and its effects.

“Despite the urgent need to tackle climate change, researchers know that people rarely talk about it on a day-to-day basis – this means opportunities for meaningful dialogue and practical responses relevant to people’s everyday lives are missed.”