By Anders Lorenzen
Polling carried out by Opinium Research for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has found that a record many people are planning to be environmentally friendly this Christmas. It showed that 64% of adults who celebrate Christmas will aim to be more environmentally cautious; a huge uptake compared to last year where just 35% said the same.
This shift, which WWF is calling the ‘COP26’ effect, is unsurprisingly being led by the younger generation. Seven in ten of those aged 18-34 (70%) who celebrate Christmas said they would try to be environmentally friendly this festive season, and half of those polled said they felt inspired by the huge attention given to the climate and nature crisis during COP26. The polling also indicated that this change might not just be for Christmas with 71% of adults saying that in 2022 they will try to be more environmentally friendly.
When it comes to being more environmentally friendly, a variety of choices are emerging such as LED lights on Christmas trees, Christmas presents that require less packaging, FSC certified and recyclable wrapping paper and Christmas cards, not choosing a live Christmas tree, reducing the number of presents, cutting down on meat intake or and even embracing a fully plant-based menu.
The government must listen to the public
WWF are taking advantage of this emerging green appetite by calling on the government to match it by setting ambitious climate and nature commitments in the new year such as; introducing a net-zero test for all Budgets and Spending Reviews, adopting a legally binding target to significantly reduce the UK’s environmental footprint, strengthening due diligence measures in the Environment Act and setting out a land Use and Decarbonisation strategy for agriculture.
Commenting on the data, WWF’s Kate Norgrove, Executive Director of Advocacy and Campaigns said: “It’s clear from this data that there’s been a tangible COP26 effect in the UK. Without urgent action, we’re facing a code red for the planet, and the public has heard that message loud and clear. People care and are ready to adjust their habits over the festive season. The UK Government must show it’s also ready to deliver on its climate and nature promises as it looks towards 2022”.
The festive season, largely due to the high levels of consumption of travel, has a higher carbon footprint than the remainder of the year. Due to restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and changes in public attitudes, it is likely to be lower this festive season than prior to the beginning of the pandemic.