Brits do not feel prepared for climate change, warn councils

“Councils want to play their full role in preparing people and places for the impacts of climate change on local areas. "

New polling from the Local Government Association and YouGov shows just 5 per cent of the public feel prepared for the impacts of climate change, following recent years of excess heat, flooding and storms.

The LGA, which represents councils across England and Wales, is calling for the Autumn Statement to signal a rapid acceleration in the work to get ready for the escalating impacts of climate change.

The polling found the public trust their council the most to lead the effort to prepare villages, towns and cities to the climate impacts. 

This includes measures to protect the most vulnerable, build flood defences, secure local infrastructure, cool homes and buildings, and to be ready for water and food insecurity.

It also found:

  • More than 6 in 10 people (63 per cent) are worried about climate change
  • People are most worried about storms, flooding, and heatwaves; and least worried about wildfires, and the impact on the economy and public services.
  • 1 in 10 people (12 per cent) think climate change will not impact their area

Councils are also calling for government guidance on critical thresholds for different weather patterns. This would include the threshold temperatures that different services can change or close, from play areas to libraries.  

Cllr Darren Rodwell, environment spokesperson for the LGA said: 

“Councils want to play their full role in preparing people and places for the impacts of climate change on local areas. 

“As extreme weather events become more frequent and intense, the public sense of unpreparedness will undoubtedly harden and grow.

“Councils are doing fantastic work to tackle climate change and we want our communities to feel secure in their homes and local areas. The public trust us most because we are rooted in communities and understand places, we must be given the tools and funding needed to make that happen.” 

 Notes to editors

  • All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2,112 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 1st - 2nd November 2023.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all adults in England and Wales (aged 18+). Additional quotas were applied to sample by ethnicity.
  • The LGA’s Autumn Statement submission warns that councils in England face a funding gap of £4 billion over the next two years. In its submission to the Chancellor, the LGA said the Government needs to provide immediate funding so councils can deliver the 2023/24 budgets they set this year and ensure that councils have sufficient resources to set balanced budgets next year without having to make drastic cuts to services. It is accompanied by appendices on key areas of council activity that are experiencing sharp financial and/or demand pressures (adult social care, children’s services and housing and homelessness support).
  • Delivering net zero is a priority for councils, with the submission calling on the Government to back local climate action by devolving approaches on ten missions: public trust, retrofitting social and fuel poor homes, public buildings, local energy generation and grid investment, whole place transport, jobs and growth, the natural world, placemaking, rapidly escalating adaptation action, and attracting private finance.
  • Find out more about the work councils are doing to tackle climate change here.