Welsh public survey reveals perceived harmful impacts of climate change on mental health and cost of living
A national public survey conducted by Public Health Wales has revealed that over three quarters of residents in Wales believe that climate change will damage mental health and increase the costs of heating a home and buying food.
Other major concerns of climate change include reduced access to health and care services, increased spread of infectious diseases, and greater levels of physical illness.
Conducted in 2021/22, the survey interviewed 2,269 residents across Wales to gather views on climate change and health.
Other key findings include:
- 82 per cent of people were fairly or very concerned about climate change
- 61 per cent believe that climate change is already having an impact in Wales, including:
- Extreme weather
- Coastal erosion
- Many people regularly engaged in recycling (88 per cent) but fewer were regularly engaged in other climate friendly actions such as minimising energy use at home (44 per cent) or trying to buy local products (38 per cent).
- Many would consider doing more climate friendly actions in the future, including:
- 59 per cent would use brands/companies that protected the environment (a further 21 per cent always did this anyway)
- 54 per cent would avoid buying goods/products with unnecessary packaging (a further 33 per cent always did this anyway)
- 53 per cent would use green energy sources to power their home (a further 20 per cent always did this anyway). However, some climate friendly options were not as popular. For instance 41 per cent would not be willing to avoid/eat less meat or dairy.
- Some of the most important motivators cited for encouraging climate friendly actions were: knowing positive actions would help future generations, seeing big businesses taking action and knowing climate friendly behaviours would improve health.
Sara Wood, researcher at Public Health Wales said: “The survey revealed that climate change is a real concern to people in Wales and that most are keen to engage in positive actions to reduce its impacts, if given the right motivation.
“Policy decisions can also go a long way to address this, with popular ones including providing cheaper and more access to renewable energy, improving public transport and laws to reduce the use of plastic packaging. But people were less keen on policies that increase fuel prices for cars, provide cheaper and more access to nuclear energy, or reducing taxes for companies protecting the environment.”
Professor Karen Hughes, Public Health Wales, said: “Almost one in four people thought they could have no personal influence on limiting climate change, but individual actions add up. There are lots of ways in which people can make changes to their lives to protect the planet, such as reducing car use and air travel, eating local and seasonal foods, buying second hand or mending items rather than buying new, and avoiding buying products with unnecessary waste.”
‘Climate Change and Health in Wales: Views from the public.’ Was conducted on behalf of Public Health Wales.
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