‘Nowhere near,’ no Cambo (likely) and 40% say Climate change is a big issue in the UK

By Asitha Jayawardena

Developments since the COP26 ended on 12 November 2021

‘Nowhere near…’ This has been the response from Chris Stark, Chief Executive of the Climate Change Committee (CCC) on 2 December, after assessing the stock of progress since the end of UN Climate Summit COP26 in Glasgow on 12 November 2021.

This comment came on the same day that Shell declared that the exploration of the Cambo oil field west of Shetland was not going ahead. The proposed development of said oil field was a headache to the UK authorities during COP26. Although the UK establishment have to take a final decision, the President of COP26 Alok Sharma had a sigh of relief.

Meanwhile, as a response to the question ‘What do you see as the most/other important issues facing Britain today?’ 40% of Britons said that it was pollution, environment and climate change in an Ipsos MORI poll, published on 24 November.

Climate change is a big issue in the UK

Ipsos MORI carried out fieldwork from 5 to 11 November 2021 during the COP26 summit and 1,009 British adults, aged 18 and over, participated in this poll.

Since pollution/ environment/ climate change was included in the Index in October 1988, it is the highest recorded score for this issue. In the monthly Ipsos MORI Issues Index, this is the third time it has topped the list of national concerns. In July 1989, the issue of pollution/ environment/ climate change topped the list, scoring 35%. In July 1990, it was a joint biggest issue with the NHS and local government issues, scoring 30%.

In November 2021, 21% said that pollution/ environment/ climate change is the single biggest issue for the UK.

To the question of the most/other important issues facing Britain today, the Britons responded:

  • 27% Coronavirus/ Pandemic diseases
  • 22% Common Market/ Brexit/ EU/ Europe
  • 22% NHS/ Hospitals/ Healthcare
  • 21% Economy

Since October 2021, the change in the issues is as follows:

  • Pollution/ environment/ climate change +16 (3 positions up)
  • Common Market/ Brexit/ EU/ Europe -6 (2 down)
  • Economy -5 (2 down)

Interestingly, at the 7th position, 11% said they would lack faith in politicians, politics and government. It entered the top ten, climbing +6 but it remained a smaller-scale concern.

Meanwhile, 27% think that Coronavirus / Pandemic diseases is a big issue and it’s at the same level as of October 2021.

The UK ‘nowhere near’ meeting targets of COP26

When the COP26 is over, Chris Stark of CCC said that, at current rates, the UK is contributing to disastrous warming of 2.7C in 2100. This, however, could be brought down to 2C if the ministers bring on tougher policies while the other nations cut down emissions simultaneously. 

Even though 2C is extremely dangerous because the limit is 1.5C, agreed by the Paris Agreement, and every one of COP26 should target it. The UK government is certain that it will achieve its climate change targets in 2030.

According to the Energy Transition Commission, the pledges before COP26 was 52.4Gt greenhouse gas emissions. During COP26, this came down to 41.9Gt but this is not enough. To stay under 1.5C warming in 2030, the requirement is 26.6Gt and it is a long way to go.

No Cambo, Shell says

According to Shell, the proposed Cambo oil field is not going ahead because the economic case for investing in the North Atlantic was ‘not strong enough.’ Shell has carried out a ‘comprehensive screening’ before deciding that it will not proceed. They only have a 30% stake in the field.

In the meantime, the majority stakeholder Siccar Point Energy would talk with the UK government over the future of the oil field.

COP26 President has to act now…

While the CCC says that UK’s climate policies are not strong enough to achieve the cut to global emissions in 2030, Shell drops the plan to develop the undesirable Cambo oil field in Scotland. Meanwhile, in Ipsos MORI Issues Index in November, 40% of Britons said pollution, environment and climate change is big issue.

In the same poll, 11% said they would lack faith in politicians, politics and government, rising +6 places.

So COP26 President Alok Sharma has to act now. If he acts, the 11% would go down again, perhaps out of the top ten.


COP26: UK ‘nowhere near’ meeting targets agreed at Glasgow climate summit https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-59489563

Shell pulls out of Cambo oil field development https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-59512742

Ipsos MORI Issues Index: November 2021 https://www.ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en-uk/ipsos-mori-issues-index-november-2021



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