Concern for environment reaches record high in YouGov top issues tracker

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
November 09, 2021, 10:37 AM UTC

Prior to 2018, the environment was an important issue to few

With the COP-26 climate change summit now entering its tenth day, YouGov's issues tracker finds that 40% of Britons now say that the environment is one of the top three issues facing the country, a record high.

This puts it within touching distance of second-placed 'the economy' (43%) and within eight points of the top spot, currently occupied by health (48%).

Although a record high, the environment has yet to break into the top two issues in the tracker's 11-year history.

That said, the environment has clearly become a key issue for the public in recent years. Prior to 2018, the number of people listing it as one of the top issues facing the nation rarely topped 10%. However, levels of concern started to rise in 2018, and saw a significant increase in early 2019 following Extinction Rebellion protests in London.

At this point the number of people listing the environment shot up to the mid-20s - itself then a record, comparable only to a spike caused by winter flooding in 2014 - and kept slowly rising until the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, when it plummeted to the low 20s. Concern has been rising consistently since that point, reaching the pre-COP-26 record of 37% in mid-August this year before falling back somewhat until the conference.

See the results here: 2010-2015 / 2016-2020 / 2020 onwards