- One in three (36%) UK adults feel worried about the environment and climate change
- Concerns over climate change are mounting, with the UK population feeling increasingly powerless, anxious and frustrated
- A third (35%) of UK adults said they would invest their money if they knew it could help tackle climate change, however only 8% are currently investing in a bid to be more sustainable
Over the past decade, conversations around climate change have become increasingly prevalent, spurred on by heightened weather events, blockbuster documentaries and a growing number of media headlines. People are conscious about the role that they are supposed to play in tackling climate change, but many are left scratching their heads about whether there’s more they can do as an individual.
Feelings of helplessness spiral, with clear need for further guidance
New research from F&C Investment Trust finds that almost half of adults in the UK feel they have exhausted all options within their powers to address climate change, with 46% believing they are doing everything they can already.
Adding to this sense of helplessness is a perception amongst one in three (36%) that the problem is too big to solve, while a similar number (31%) feel that they can’t make a difference on their own.
Lack of knowledge about how to make a real change is a key obstacle, with over half (54%) saying that they would like to know more about how they can help.
Worries only growing as signs of climate change increase
The emotional impact of this is clear. One in three (36%) are feeling worried about the environment, while one in four also feel powerless (26%), anxious (25%) and frustrated (24%) when they think of climate change.
This has been driven by a multitude of factors, including the fact people are increasingly witnessing the consequences of climate change around the world. Almost two thirds (63%) of people said that seeing the impact of extreme weather events such as hurricanes and wildfires were at the heart of their fears around climate change, while 47% cited the effect of TV shows and documentaries highlighting the consequences of global warming.
People’s concerns around climate change are also rapidly increasing, with two thirds (65%) of people more concerned about climate change than they were five years ago.
Meanwhile, people are losing hope around our ability to protect the future of the planet, with over half (56%) afraid that time is running out to curb the effects of climate change. Compounding this is a perceived lack of action, with two in five (44%) feeling that the issue isn’t being taken seriously enough.
Investing responsibly drives optimism and a sense of control
Responsible investing could provide people with a route of action, alleviating some feelings of helplessness and enabling individuals to feel they’re playing a more constructive role in fighting climate change. People who invest in ESG-related products are twice as likely to feel optimistic about climate change than the those who don’t (23% compared to 11%) and less likely to feel powerless (18% compared to 29%).
Responsible investing is gradually becoming more mainstream amongst existing investors, with 37% of investors, 6.4 million people in the UK, now investing in products with an ESG focus. Half (51%) of these ESG investors think that by investing responsibly they are directly mitigating the impact of climate change, which compares to just 16% of those who don’t invest responsibly.
In fact, ESG investors would go as far as to cite responsible investing as more beneficial than many of the everyday behaviours we adopt to minimise our impact on the planet such as buying reusable items, reducing our carbon footprint or eliminating dairy or meat intake.
However, there remains a clear gap in awareness around responsible investing in the general UK population. Despite a third of people (35%) saying they would invest their money if they knew it could help tackle climate change, only 8% of UK adults have currently invested their money as a way to mitigate their impact on the planet.
Beatrice Hollond, Chairman of the Board for F&C Investment Trust, commented: “Climate change is the single greatest threat we as a society have ever had to contend with. It’s therefore only natural that, faced with a problem on this scale, people are feeling helpless and powerless about how they might be able to help solve the problem. There is a clear need for education to help people build their understanding of the obstacles we face and the behaviour changes we can all make at an individual level to help address them.
“The key to solving climate change lies in each and every one of us making changes and commitments across our daily lives. While many of us may feel we are doing everything within our powers to help in the fight against climate change, one significant route remains undiscovered by millions in the UK.
“If channelled towards common goals, our money has huge potential to drive change, having a positive impact on the financial future of the individual while also making a meaningful impact on the future of our planet. Investing responsibly enables us to be part of a collective, giving individuals more influence than they would have on their own.
“This can help combat the feeling that the problem is too big for individuals to solve alone, instead bringing people together to support businesses in their transition to be more sustainable and encouraging them to mitigate the impact they have on the environment and world around them.”