Public concern about climate change has hit new highs as the issue has risen up the agenda in recent months, a Government survey suggests.
The findings were released as a letter from more than 100 “worried parents” – including actor Jude Law, former footballer Gary Lineker and musicians Jamie Cullum and Paloma Faith – was published demanding climate action.
Polling for the Business and Energy Department (Beis) found four-fifths of people are now fairly or very concerned about climate change, the highest level since the regular survey began in 2012.
The new highs were driven by an increase in the number of people who are very concerned about the problem – with more than a third (35%) saying they feel that way.
Almost half (48%) said climate change was caused entirely or mainly by humans, the highest level recorded in the survey.
Just 7% thought it was an entirely natural phenomenon and only 2% said they did not think it existed.
Young people were more likely to see climate change as being mainly or entirely caused by humans, with 61% of 16 to 24-years-olds.
The changes in the survey, which took place from March 13 to 24, come amid increasingly hard-hitting warnings about the impacts of rising global temperatures from scientists, as well as school walkouts.
Since the survey was conducted, there have also been high-profile protests by Extinction Rebellion over the climate and environmental “emergency” which saw more than 1,000 people arrested amid huge disruption.
The poll found that seven in 10 people think climate change is already having an impact in the UK, with half (51%) saying they had noticed rising temperatures or hotter summers in recent years.
Almost two-thirds (63%) expect higher temperatures and hotter summers over the next 15 to 20 years, while more than half expect to see rising sea levels and more flooding (56%) and extreme events such as storms (54%).
Support for renewable energy was up to 84%, with backing for solar, offshore and onshore wind, wave and tidal sources all reaching new highs.
Two-fifths of people now oppose fracking, the highest level since the question was first asked in 2013, while just 12% support the process of producing natural gas.
Industry body RenewableUK said despite record levels of support for onshore wind, the technology is being excluded by ministers from competing in auctions for contracts to generate clean power, and called on them to change their policy.
RenewableUK’s deputy chief executive Emma Pinchbeck said: “In a climate emergency, we need to use every tool in the box.”
The letter from parents has been co-ordinated by the group Mothers Rise Up, and is being published ahead of International Mothers’ Day on Sunday May 12, when parent groups across the UK and Europe will be demanding climate action.
The climate crisis is an issue for all parents - no matter what we do, or where we liveGary Lineker
In the letter, 125 actors, writers, musicians, politicians, faith leaders and campaigners urge governments to declare a climate emergency and dramatically speed up emissions reductions “for the sake of our children and the planet”.
They write: “We are terrified at what the growing climate crisis means for our children and millions of children across the globe – many of whom are already suffering because of the extreme droughts, floods and storms that are increasingly the norm in our rapidly overheating world.”
TV presenter Lineker said: “The climate crisis is an issue for all parents – no matter what we do, or where we live.
“Together we need show politicians that this is something we care about, and an issue we will judge them on.”