Climate scepticism and UKIP trends – more than a coincidence?

Nigel FarageI’ve blogged before on my ideas about the importance of seeing climate scepticism as a political phenomenon related to populism. With yesterday’s county council election results now showing a big UKIP vote, today seems an appropriate time to note that the rise in UKIP support correlates pretty well with an increase in scepticism expressed in polls.

YouGov has recently come out with the 2013 round of its tracker poll with repeat questions on climate change. In 2008, only 7 percent of respondents said that they thought the world is NOT becoming warmer.  By 2010 this had risen to 18%, dipped to 15% in 2012 but 2013 surged to 28%.

Back in 2008, pollsters weren’t reporting support for UKIP in national polls, lumping them in with “Others”m vbecause levels of support were so low. In the 2005 general election UKIP got 2.3% of the vote. By the 2010 general election that was up to 3.1% By June 2012, when the climate polling was done, pollsters had started singling UKIP out, and the average of polls on Anthony Wells UK Polling Report site was 7.5%. By March 2013, they were up to 12%. Their showing in by-elections at Eastleigh and yesterday in South Shields was even stronger, at 28% and 24% of the vote respectively.

It seems that for quite a large number of the UK public, their views on climate change are still not fixed. UKIP as a party is strongly sceptical on climate, and the decision by individuals to switch political allegiances may also either make them change their minds or be more willing to state their views in surveys.

Of course, correlation is not causation, and what this data really points to is the need for a more thorough assessment of any potential link, and what it implies for strategies by those who are concerned about the impact of all this on policy. What a shame, then, as I’ve noted before, that no-one in the environmentalist movement, seems particularly interested. I wonder if it will be too late by the time they change their minds?

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Climate scepticism and UKIP trends – more than a coincidence?

  1. Ben

    This is a really interesting post. Clearly, the Conservative Party will be worried about this rightward drift – their response to retaining support of such voters is one that could also clearly be of detriment to environmental agendas. The Green Party also had notable gains (albeit these were largely overshadowed by UKIP gains) potentially demonstrating how of dissatisfaction from both ‘believers’ and ‘sceptics’ with current stances of mainstream parties are associating with drifts to both the left and right away from mainstream parties..

  2. P Baker

    I rather doubt that this is more than happenstance.

    People are voting UKIP as a protest about immigration, Europe and/or poor performance by the coalition. The party’s views on CC are probably unknown by most voters, UKIP certainly has not made them prominent.

    People don’t think it’s getting warmer because the weather has been so bloody awful over the past 3 or 4 years.

    So it’s a coincidence – part of the terrible bad luck that we are in a period of stagnation and decline just as we need to feel flush and confident enough to tackle cc.

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