70% of people in Scotland support further action on climate change amid surging levels of concern, poll shows

  • 01 Apr 2019
  • General News, Act for Our Future, International

People in Scotland are concerned about climate change and strongly support greater action across a range of sectors to tackle it, polling has revealed today.

The survey carried out for Stop Climate Chaos Scotland by YouGov comes as the world’s leading climate scientists – the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – gather in Edinburgh this week. The IPCC delivered last year’s landmark warning about the urgent need to rapidly change our economies and societies to avoid increased warning.

The IPCC’s visit comes as MSPs prepare to debate the Scottish Government’s Climate Bill for the first time on Tuesday 2 April. The Bill has been heavily criticised for failing to significantly increase ambition in the crucial period between now and 2030. Ahead of the debate, climate activists will hold a “Running out of time” themed rally outside Scottish Parliament.

The newly released survey revealed:

  • 78% of respondents are either more concerned about climate change or are as concerned as they were twelve months ago
  • 1 in 3 are more concerned about climate change now than they were one year ago
  • 70% of respondents support Scotland taking greater action in transport, food and homes to tackle climate change.
  • 88% of SNP voters are supportive of Scotland taking greater action over the next few years across sectors such as transport, food and home heating, to prevent climate change
  • The most common reasons for concern about climate change are: concern for future generations (71%), threat to wildlife (65%), natural disasters (62%), rising sea levels (60%)

Gail Wilson, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland Campaigns Manager commented:

“Climate change will do irreversible damage to our planet if we don’t do more to tackle it now. This new polling shows that people in Scotland recognise the seriousness of the situation and want more action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Last year, UN climate scientists published a landmark report which highlighted the alarming rate at which our climate is changing. That report underlined that if levels of emissions continue at current rates, the risks posed to people and the planet would be truly catastrophic.

“As 200 leading UN scientists from around the world gather in Edinburgh this week, MSPs at Holyrood must take note of the growing clamour for urgent action on climate change. Mounting scientific evidence from world experts, alongside increasing levels of public support mean Scotland’s new climate law must rise to address the scale of the crisis presented.”

Jamie Livingstone, Head of Oxfam Scotland, a member of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, commented:

“People in Scotland are right to be increasingly concerned about climate change. Across the world, we are already seeing communities ravaged by fire, floods and storms like never before. Despite doing least to cause it, climate change is hitting the world’s poorest people hardest, forcing people from their homes and increasing hunger. Worryingly, climate change makes extreme weather events, like the devastating Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, much more likely.”

“As a nation which has historically profited from fossil fuels, Scotland has a duty to act with greater urgency when tackling climate change and it’s hugely encouraging that people support faster action. Humanity needs bold, brave leadership and action right now – and Scotland has the chance to show genuine leadership.”

Aedan Smith, Head of Planning at RSPB Scotland, a member of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland said:

“Climate change is already starting to impact on wildlife in Scotland and the IPCC have identified climate change as one of the biggest threats to wildlife right across the world. However, it is very encouraging that so many Scots are both concerned about the threat of climate change to wildlife and would also support more action in Scotland to tackle climate change.

“It is therefore clear that in tackling climate change we must avoid further harm and, wherever possible, also help nature. We need to make sure that developments intended to tackle climate change minimise their impacts on wildlife, and we need natural approaches to help protect us from the worst effects of climate change. For example, we need to create natural flood defences and provide more space for wildlife in our countryside, our urban areas and our gardens, to help soak up increased rainfall and provide shelter from sun and wind for wildlife and people.”

The 2018 report by the IPCC found that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities.

Professor Jim Skea, current co-chair of Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Environment Committee on the Climate Bill.

Speaking then, he emphasised the benefits of early action in terms of cost, saying: “everything that you do now will buy you benefits further down the line” and confirmed there were cost savings associated with early action.”

Regarding when Scotland should set a net-zero target date, he said “…it would be suggested that a country such as Scotland should probably aim for something a little earlier than the 2040 to 2070 bracket in order to make a reasonable and fair contribution to the global aim of net-zero.”



  1. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,029 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 21st – 25th March 2019. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Scottish adults (aged 18+). Polling results are available here.
  2. Details of the IPCC visit to Edinburgh are here. IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C: Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far- reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society. Read the report here.
  3. Scottish Parliament will hold a Stage 1 Debate: Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill on Tuesday 2nd April 2019. Stop Climate Chaos Scotland will stage a Climate Rally and photo stunt outside the Parliament on Tuesday 2nd April from 12.30-2pm.