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

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This article examines the evolution of long-term trends in the prioritization 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, prioritization largely tracks changing economic conditions as well as key environmental events, with the winter of 2019 showing the highest recorded levels. Furthermore, trends in individuals' willingness to prioritize 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 politicization of the environment, with left-right orientations only becoming an important correlate of environmental prioritization in recent years, in line with rising divergence on the issue at the elite level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-186
Number of pages19
JournalGovernment and Opposition
Issue number1
Early online date30 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2024


  • Environment
  • Public Opinion
  • Attitudes
  • Britain
  • politicisation
  • Values
  • environment
  • attitudes
  • values
  • public opinion
  • politicization

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