Most Brits are still committed to tackling the climate crisis despite cost of living pressures

By Richard Jenkins
Wednesday, 15th June 2022, 5:48 pm

The survey of 2,000 UK adults showed that 59 per cent believe it is still important to invest in green energy solutions to tackle climate change even if the Green Levy adds to the cost of household energy bills. This is the majority sentiment across all income levels, including those on lower incomes. 

In fact, the figure rises to 63 per cent for those earning between £20,000 and £24,999 annually. Support for green energy solutions also rises to 69 per cent when looking at the opinions of those aged 18-34 years, showing that environmentally conscious consumers are prepared to pay the price to help tackle the climate emergency.

Climate change also topped the rankings as the most urgent social and environmental issue for UK consumers, coming above other issues including poverty and food insecurity. The survey, commissioned by The Co-operative Bank, found 61 per cent of people agree that addressing the climate crisis is one of the most important issues facing the country. 

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This support rises to 68 per cent when looking at the views of those aged 18-34. Meanwhile, 70 per cent of this age group said that companies should be more transparent about their business practices when it comes to their environmental credentials.

The study also asked consumers to share their thoughts on how their bank should conduct itself on environmental and social matters. The research showed that 37 per cent of people would ask their main bank account provider to do more to support environmental and social issues and that 39 per cent would like their bank to consult them on its approach to these challenges. 

Climate change is a major concern

The findings come as The Co-operative Bank unveils its refreshed customer-led Ethical Policy, which sets out renewed and ambitious environmental and social commitments based on feedback from circa 50,000 customers.

Speaking about the research, Co-operative Bank CEO Nick Slape said: “It is clear that climate change is a major concern for UK consumers and a concern that we share with our customers. Tackling it has been a priority for the Bank over the last three decades since our customers told us through our values and ethics poll that the environment matters to them. 

“Our latest policy is structured around customers’ concerns for our planet, for people and for our communities. Under each of these pillars we outline what we’ll campaign for; stating the positive steps we’re taking on issues ranging from biodiversity to social justice, reflecting the evolution in our customers’ views since we first conducted this unique, largescale survey of our customers’ priorities back in 1992.” 

Making a pledge

Marking its 150th year of business rooted in co-operative values and ethics, the bank continues to champion the fight against climate change. As the first UK bank to sign the Paris Pledge, denying finance for coal mining and power generation, it has been beyond carbon neutral for over a decade, and has not sent any operational waste to landfill for the last two years with 70 per cent of its waste recycled in 2021. The bank also remains committed to its energy targets and in 2021 reduced its energy consumption by 18 per cent year-on-year and sourced all directly procured electricity from renewable sources.

With the best ESG score of any UK high street bank, the bank is supporting the Zero Hour campaign and backing The Climate and Ecology Bill, which recently had its first reading in the House of Lords. The campaign for the Climate and Ecology Bill launched with its first introduction in Parliament in September 2020. Zero Hour is a mass mobilisation campaign and has the backing of 151 cross-party MPs and Peers, over 200 councils have passed motions in support of the Bill, 25,000 members of the public have signed up to the campaign and over 450 businesses, community groups and NGOs support the Bill.

Dr Amy McDonnell, Zero Hour Campaign Director said: "2022 is a crucial year for our planet. The Climate and Ecology Bill is an ambitious proposal for a new law. It contains a robust strategy for tackling the twin nature and climate crisis in a joined-up way, and it ensures the public get a say on finding a fair way forward. Zero Hour, the campaign for the Bill, is proudly partnering with The Co-operative Bank, an organisation that has a clear commitment to tackling this important issue and a long history of campaigning on the causes that matter most to its customers. The findings from The Bank’s recent research shows that combating climate change is one of the most important issue that the UK faces today and consumers are behind a huge and growing drive for big, bold changes to UK legislation."