Climate scepticism and UKIP trends – more than a coincidence?

This post is by Matthew Lockwood and first appeared on Political Climate.

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 seven percent of respondents said that they thought the world is NOT becoming warmer.  By 2010 this had risen to 18 per cent, dipped to 15 per cent in 2012 but 2013 surged to 28 per cent.

Is there a link between the rise of both UKIP and climate scepticism? 
Back in 2008, pollsters weren’t reporting support for UKIP in national polls, lumping them in with ‘Others’ because levels of support were so low. In the 2005 general election UKIP got 2.3 per cent of the vote. By the 2010 general election that was up to 3.1 per cent 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 per cent. By March 2013, they were up to 12 per cent. Their showing in by-elections atEastleigh and yesterday in South Shields was even stronger, at 28 per cent and 24 per cent 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?

- Dr. Matthew Lockwood, Senior Research Fellow with iGov

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