Understanding Scotland – Environment July 2022

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Our  new  polling  on  environmental  attitudes  and  objectives  points  to  widespread pessimism at the prospects of meeting our shared environmental targets, whether at a Scottish, British or global level. People are split on the adequacy of Scotland’s net zero targets, and a plurality judge the UK’s 2050 target to be inadequate.

Despite  this,  most  people  are  still  doubtful  of  achieving  these  targets.  A  majority  of people have little or no confidence in the Scotland meeting its environmental targets, rising to three quarters saying the same of the UK. A third of the population overall simultaneously judge Britain’s targets to be insufficient, while still doubting that they will be met.

Young people are at odds with other demographic groups, much more likely to judge targets to be inadequate. Of those expressing an opinion, young people were almost twice as likely as those aged over 65 to say that Scotland’s targets were insufficient. Those with a greater knowledge of climate change and net zero were also more likely to deem existing targets inadequate.

Key Takeaways

Our Understanding Scotland polling on environmental targets and attitudes brings you insights from over 2,000 members of the adult (16+) Scottish public on some of the most pressing questions of the day.

  1. There is widespread pessimism and scepticism towards existing environmental targets
    We find widespread scepticism towards the UK’s and Scotland’s net zero targets, both in terms of their appropriateness/adequacy and their likelihood of being achieved.
  2. Most people are dissatisfied with current targets
    Only 2 in 5 people judge Scotland’s targets to be ‘about right’, falling to a quarter saying the same of the UK’s objectives. The remaining proportions are broadly split on Scotland’s targets, with a third deeming them overly ambitious, and 3 in 10 considering them insufficient, while a plurality across all demographic groups consider UK targets insufficient.
  3. There is low awareness of Scotland and the uk’s existing targets
    While people are confident that they understand terms like climate change and net zero, more than 7 in 10 people know little or nothing about Scotland and the UK’s environmental targets.
  4. Young people are at odds with the rest of the population
    Younger people were markedly more likely to deem existing targets insufficient, with over a third and half of those giving a view saying so of Scotland and the UK’s objectives, respectively.
  5. Even when targets are seen as insufficient, people are still not optimistic about meeting these
    A third of people overall simultaneously deem current UK targets insufficient, while also doubting that even these inadequate targets will be achieved.