EIGHT out of ten people in the UK are prepared to change their Christmas habits to help tackle the climate crisis, a new poll suggests. Actions such as ending the use of non-recyclable wrapping paper, and no longer giving plastic toys, were the top choices for households.
Giving secondhand gifts and swapping the Christmas turkey for a vegetarian option were less popular actions for those who took part in the poll for Christian Aid: just 15 per cent of respondents were prepared to have a vegetarian Christmas lunch, compared with 55 per cent who were willing to swap the wrapping paper that they used.
Younger people were most likely to be willing to take action: 89 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds would change their habits this Christmas, compared with 79 per cent of over-55s.
The poll of more than 2000 people was carried out by Savanta ComRes to coincide with Christian Aid’s Christmas appeal for South Sudan.
The survey also asked whether news reports about the flooding and hunger in South Sudan, exacerbated by the climate crisis, made people more worried about climate change. Sixty-eight per cent said that such news made them much more or a little bit more worried.
The UN estimates that more than 70,000 people in South Sudan have been affected by floods, which have demolished homes and destroyed farms and livestock.
Christian Aid’s country director in South Sudan, James Wani, said: “The scale of the flooding is unprecedented and overwhelming. People have lost their crops and their livestock. When the water does finally recede, people will return to nothing.
“South Sudan has experienced flooding for three years in a row, but the intensity keeps increasing. We are only going to see the hunger crisis escalate over the next few months.”
The former Archbishop of York Lord Sentamu, who chairs Christian Aid, said: “Now we know that climate crisis is wreaking havoc in our global home. We are, therefore, glad that the British public is willing to make personal sacrifices for the good of everyone.
“Christmas is a time of joy and celebration for many, but, as Christians, we never lose sight of our neighbours near and far who may be suffering, especially those on the front line of a crisis they have done little to cause.
“And, although we appreciate these personal actions are not going to stop climate change on their own, they show that people are committed to taking action. What we need now is for richer nations to provide the finance needed to fund sustainable and long-term solutions to tackling climate change once and for all.”
The Climate Coalition — which comprises more than 100 environmental organisations, including Christian Aid, Tearfund, and the C of E Environment Working Group — published on Monday a “report card” on the Government’s progress in tackling climate change during 2021. The Coalition awarded the Government a “C” grade overall.
The Government was awarded a “C” for its strategy to achieve net-zero emissions, which the Coalition described as “underfunded”, but scored a “B” “for its efforts to cajole other nations into setting more ambitious climate goals in the next year”.
The Coalition also said that the Government had made the protection of nature a “prominent” part of the COP26 climate summit, “which contributed to its inclusion in more of the climate plans of governments around the world”; but, it said, “little progress” had been made on its own target of protecting 30 per cent of British land and seas.
The Government was also commended for securing at COP26 an “important” target to double-adaptation finance by 2025, but was awarded an “E” grade “for allowing wealthy countries to sabotage a proposed fund for loss and damage”.
The head of advocacy for Tearfund, Paul Cook, said on Monday: “The UK Government is clearly not living up to its full potential on climate action, and it will have to double its efforts in the new year. If it wants to see improved grades, then it should start by getting its act together to meet its own net-zero targets.
“The Government wants to be a global leader on climate, but, as it heads into 2022, it will have to achieve far more for the communities around the world already devastated by the climate crisis.”