The August 2023 Ipsos Issues Index reveals a sharp jump in public concern about climate change, although inflation and the economy remain the most important issues facing the country.
Amid news headlines about extreme temperatures and wildfires experienced across Europe and the world, the proportion of Britons who say they are concerned about climate change and the environment has risen thirteen points since last month, and stands at the highest level since the COP26 conference in Glasgow in November 2021. It is mentioned by a quarter (25%) of Britons ranking it alongside the NHS, which itself has seen a drop of eight percentage points since July.
The economy and inflation remain the biggest issues. Thirty-seven per cent of Britons mention each as big issues for the country. Concern about inflation is a similar level to that recorded in July and has remained the most important issue for six consecutive months. The proportion mentioning the economy has risen by seven percentage points since last month, with almost a quarter (23%) seeing it as the single most important national concern.
Almost a quarter (23%) cite immigration as one of the most important issues facing Britain, up two points from last month. The level of public concern is now at the highest level recorded since November 2017. Significant differences in concern remain, with Conservative party supporters (36%) and those aged over 65 (30%) more likely mention it as an issue than Labour supporters (11%) and those aged 18-34 (14%).
For the first time since December 2019, the proportion of people mentioning infectious disease or COVID-19 has fallen to less than half of one per cent. This makes it the 34th biggest issue for the country this month.
Mike Clemence, a researcher at Ipsos, said, “Climate change and the environment has risen to become seen as the joint-third biggest issue facing the country this month, and news reports about wildfires and extreme temperatures disrupting holidays are a likely cause.
Elsewhere we see a small rise in concern about immigration, with worry strongly centred among Conservative party supporters and older people.
However, economic issues continue to lead public concern, with worry about the state of the economy rising this month, particularly for Labour party supporters and the middle classes.”