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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > June 2019 > Policy report: Environment

Policy report: Environment

On climate we have grown used to inaction. Should we look to markets or farming reform to unlock the discussion?

Stephanie Boland Head of Digital, Prospect

Brokering the politics of excited hippies and jaded commuters

Over the past few weeks, anyone who has so much as passed through Westminster will have noticed Extinction Rebellion’s colourful protests. Blockading the roads into Parliament Square, this “bunch of hippies” (as one activist jokingly termed them) set up bunting, tents and bright yellow banners hung from trees—to the amusement of tourists but frustration of the police, who, the activist told me, couldn’t climb high enough to remove at least one banner at the end of the protest.

As for London’s commuters, reactions were mixed: some enjoyed a unexpectedly pedestrianised shopping trip while others bemoaned bus delays. But YouGov’s national polling was clearer: the majority of Britons opposed the protests, with only 36 per cent in favour. This is in spite of the fact that the latest British Social Attitudes Survey shows that over 90 per cent of Britons believe climate change is “definitely or probably” happening, with 18- to 34-year-olds particularly likely to believe it is down to human activity (46 per cent) and to be very or extremely worried about it (32 per cent). Perhaps it’s the road closures that put people off.

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