- More than half of UK adults admit to feeling grief about what is happening to the planet
- One in six people report suffering from eco-anxiety – rising to a third of 18-34 year olds
- Three in four (75%) have already taken action to reduce their environmental impact, turning anxiety into agency
Inaction from politicians and big businesses on environmental issues is worsening the public’s anxiety about the climate crisis, reveals new research from Triodos Bank UK.
More than half of UK adults (51%) say they feel a sense of grief about what is happening to nature and the planet, with four in 10 (39%) reporting that they feel anxious about the climate crisis. This comes after a period of extreme weather events, including wildfires in Southern Europe and North America.
One in six (18%) report suffering from eco-anxiety, a figure that rises to a third (33%) of those aged 18-34. In fact, three in 10 of this age group (29%) say they have sought help from a counsellor, therapist or medical professional for the condition.
For those feeling concerned about the future of the planet, these feelings are exacerbated by feelings of inaction and powerlessness. Government inaction on climate issues makes one in two (48%) feel worse about the climate crisis, while over a third (38%) say they believe that government u-turns on net-zero commitments also exacerbate their anxiety.
People are taking steps for wellbeing and resilience
In the face of negative news, individuals are taking steps to help them feel less anxious about the climate crisis. 83% of those who felt anxious about the climate crisis said that they take action to reduce this feeling, rising to 90% of 18-34 year olds.
Four in ten (40%) say spending time outside in nature helps them to stay calm, while a third (34%) actively seek out positive news stories.
Making lifestyle changes to be more environmentally friendly can be a positive force not only for the planet, but for individuals themselves, as a third (32%) of people say this helps to ease their anxiety about the climate crisis.
Top five actions people are taking to feel less anxious about the climate crisis
Consumers taking action – despite multitude of pressures
Three in 10 people (31%) admit to feeling guilty about their own emissions and environmental impact, yet for consumers navigating increasing pressures around the cost of living, these feelings of guilt, grief and anxiety come at a time of other pressing worries.
In fact, six in 10 say rising food (62%) and living costs (60%) are more of an immediate worry to them than the climate crisis. For younger people, these conflicting pressures about the future are especially strong, as two-thirds (66%) claim it is hard to focus on the climate crisis when they are worried about day-to-day costs, and 65% are more concerned about rising rent and mortgage costs.
Despite this, three quarters (75%) of people in the UK say they have taken action to reduce their environmental impact, most commonly by using less single-use plastic, changing their diet to eat less meat, and switching to a renewable energy supplier.
Yet, just 5% say they have switched their bank account or pension to a provider that doesn’t invest in fossil fuels – despite this being one of the most impactful changes an individual can make.
Bevis Watts, chief executive of Triodos Bank UK, said:“From concern about increasing wildfire and extreme flooding, to grief about declining wildlife, there are huge worries for people to contemplate about the future of our planet – at a time when living costs are also on the minds of many. Yet it’s clear that the majority of people still want to take action to reduce their impact on the environment.
“COP28 later this year must deliver an acceleration in action at a global level, prioritising the phasing out of fossil fuels and increasing financial support for a fair, low carbon future. Only a truly collective effort can turn current anxiety about the future into something more hopeful.”
Sana Yusef, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “It’s not surprising that so many of us – particularly young people – are feeling worried about the future and the dual threats of the cost of living and climate crises.
“People are already turning their fear into action on the climate and making changes to live more sustainably. But it is a worrying time when our government’s commitment to meeting its climate targets is looking increasingly shaky.
“We urgently need our leaders to act on the fair, green solutions that will bring down our bills and the harmful emission that cause climate change. This means ending our reliance on expensive and polluting gas by investing in a street-by-street insulation programme to fix our heat-leaking homes and lifting the barriers to cheap, clean, homegrown renewables.”
Triodos Bank has partnered with Friends of the Earth for over 15 years, working together to challenge the conventional way that banking is done, moving the industry – and the world – towards a more transparent and sustainable future.
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About the research
Opinium Research was conducted by Opinium Research on behalf of Triodos Bank. 2,000 UK adults were surveyed, weighted to be nationally representative. Polling took place 11 - 15 August 2023.
About Triodos Bank
Founded in 1980, Triodos Bank has become a frontrunner in sustainable banking globally. As an independent bank that promotes responsible and transparent banking, it does not see any conflict between a focus on people and the planet and a good financial return. Instead it believes that they reinforce each other in the long-term.
Triodos Bank has banking activities in the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, Spain and Germany as well as Investment Management activities based in the Netherlands but active globally. Triodos Bank co-founded the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV), a network of sustainable banks. Together these banks want to grow sustainable banking and its impact on the real economy substantially.
Triodos Bank UK Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Triodos Bank NV. Registered Office: Deanery Road, Bristol, BS1 5AS. Registered in England and Wales Company No. 11379025. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under registration number 817008. VAT reg no 793493383.