Originally started in March 2012, this survey runs four times a year with questions on issues where attitudes are expected to shift more quickly or be affected by seasonal changes repeated on this quarterly basis – other questions are asked annually.
The findings from March 2020 (Wave 33), collected between 11 March and 17 March using face-to-face-in-home interviews of 1,851 adults, appear to show changing attitudes towards the environment and renewables, suggesting that there will be a higher demand for installers of renewable solutions.
Stable support for renewables
In March 2020, levels of support for renewable energy remained stable at 82%. These levels have remained between 74% – 85% since the question was first asked in March 2012.
The majority of the public continued to support each of the renewable energy sources included in the tracker in March 2020: solar (86%, off-shore wind (81%), wave and tidal (80%), on-shore wind (77%) and biomass (68%).
Nuclear energy support reaches new low
32% of the public supports nuclear energy, reaching its lowest point across the tracker, continuing a downward trend in support since September 2014 (42%), however the proportion who opposed nuclear energy remained stables at 23%.
Initially, it seems as though the public may have turned against nuclear energy, but 41% of those asked were shown to neither support nor oppose it, showing a continuation of a longer-term upward trend since September 2012 (34%), suggesting that many of those asked have no feelings either way.
Opposition to fracking reaches highest point
Awareness of fracking remained stable at 78%, with levels unchanged since December 2018. However, opposition to fracking reached its highest point across the tracker at 45% this year, while support reached its lowest at 8%.
Neither for nor against also remained stable however at 45%.
Awareness of carbon capture and storage soars
46% of those asked had awareness of carbon capture, compared to having previously remained at 36%-41%. Just over 62% who had awareness said they supported it.
Energy saving and wasting
80% of people claimed to give at least a fair amount of thought to saving energy in their home.
Being smart about smart metres
Awareness of smart metres reached a peak of 89% in March 2020, having increased gradually from 47% in March 2012.
Although the above appears to suggest changing attitudes in some areas, the below suggests that there is still a way to go until the climate crisis and ambition to reach net zero is adopted more widely.
New question on net zero
A question on to understand the public’s awareness of net zero was added in March 2020 – the proportion of those who had any awareness of ‘net zero’ was 35%.
Although awareness of net zero was rather low, awareness of climate change was reassuringly high.
76% of the public said they were either very concerned (35%) or fairly concerned (41%) about climate change, a fall from the peak of 80% observed in March 2019.
Almost half of the public (47%) said that climate change is either entirely (17%) or mainly (30%) caused by human activity, remaining at its highest point since the question was first asked.
Among all people apart from the 2% who did not believe in climate change:
- 68% thought that climate change is already having an impact in the UK.
- 56% thought that climate change is currently affecting people in their local area, 79% thought it was affecting people in the UK and 86% thought it was affecting people in other countries.
- The largest expected impact over the next 15 to 20 years was rising sea levels or more flooding (61%), followed by more extreme events such as storms (53%) and rising temperatures or hotter summers (52%).
- More people thought that the government should have the most responsibility for tackling the effects of climate change in the UK (47%) compared with the general public (25%) and businesses (11%).
The ambition for net zero coupled with increasing awareness of and support for renewable solutions among homeowners suggest an increasing demand for installers of these solutions.