The changing prioritization of environmental protection in Britain: 1982-2019

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This paper examines the evolution of long-term trends in the prioritisation of environmental protection in Britain over a period of four decades. It does so by compiling comparable questions tapping into the same underlying environmental dimension from a range of sources, including historical polling data that has only recently been made available to the research community. At the aggregate-level, prioritisation largely tracks changing economic conditions as well key environmental events, with the winter of 2019 showing the highest recorded levels. Furthermore, trends in individuals’ willingness to prioritise the environment may not always go in tandem with trends in environmental salience. At the individual-level, educational attainment is the only consistently significant demographic correlate over time. However, there is evidence of increasing politicisation of the environment, with left-right orientations only becoming an important correlate of environmental prioritisation in recent years in line with rising divergence on the issue at the elite level.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGovernment and Opposition
Early online date30 May 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 May 2022


  • Environment
  • Public Opinion
  • Attitudes
  • Britain
  • politicisation
  • Values

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