Last month, the UK experienced its most intense heatwave on record, with temperatures in some areas reaching over 40 degrees for the first time ever.
This period of extreme weather—which saw wildfires break out around major cities, resulting in the London fire service’s busiest day since World War II— convinced the public that more needs to be done to deal with the climate crisis, says a new study.
According to a survey by Savanta, which was commissioned by the Independent and involved more than 2,300 participants, 70 percent of Brits said the heatwave demonstrated that the UK needs to take more environmental action.
Most felt that the onus is on the government to do something, rather than individual citizens. That said, 30 percent of participants said the heatwave had persuaded them to eat fewer meat products.
Meat and the climate crisis
Animal agriculture is a leading cause of the climate crisis; it’s responsible for 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
It’s a major source of methane, in particular. The heat-trapping gas is more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide. Every year, just one single cow produces roughly 220 pounds of methane.
This recently led vegan charity Viva! to call on the UK government to do more to educate consumers on meat’s environmental impact, by making climate impact labels mandatory on restaurant menus.
As well as ditching meat, the survey showed that 32 people had been persuaded to fly less by the heatwave, while 36 percent wanted to invest in an electric car.
‘There’s only so much individuals can do’
But most just want the government to do their bit. Around 78 percent of people who live in London, where the heatwave caused 34 grass fires, believe politicians need to do more.
Zac Goldsmith, the Minister for the International Environment and Climate, told the Independent that “people are right to look to government for leadership.”
“There’s only so much individuals can do,” he added. “But governments set the rules within which the market operates and unless and until the market is made to recognize the risks of environmental damage and the value of a healthy planet, we will continue moving rapidly in the wrong direction.”