Environmental anxiety reaches highest level in 20 years

Environmental anxiety has reached its highest level since July 1990 with 21% of Britons mentioning the environment and pollution as a “major issue” for Britain, the October 2019 Ipsos MORI Issues Index shows.

This represents a six percentage point rise from September and pushes the topic into fourth place in a ranking of the nation’s top issues, above education, the economy, and immigration.

The figure is the latest peak in a long stretch of growth in importance for the issue, starting from September 2012 when only 2% of respondents mentioned the environment.

Notably, concern about the environment remains unevenly distributed, despite having risen strongly overall.

Those in the middle class were found to be most worried, with almost a third (32%) of those in the top social grade, AB, expressing environmental concern, and a quarter (24%) of those in the next tier down, social grade C1.

The figure for those in the C2 grade was 14% and for those in grade DE, 12%.

Younger Britons were most concerned (29% of 18-24-year-olds), closely followed by those aged 45 to 54 (26%).

Anxiety was highest among those living in southern England (29%) and lowest for those in the Midlands (15%).

Women were slightly more concerned about the environment than men (22% to 20%).

The October Ipsos report also showed that Brexit remains the country’s biggest concern, with 63% mentioning it as a key issue, similar to the September score of 65%. Respondents were surveyed while MPs were voting on Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, but before the general election was called.

Healthcare was the UK’s second biggest issue, mentioned by 36% of respondents, followed by crime, at 24%.

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