British Jews are far more likely to believe climate change is down to human action than the general population, according to a new survey that lifts the lid on communal attitudes to pressing environmental issues for the first time.
The research released by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) ahead of COP26, the climate change conference in Glasgow, reveals that two-thirds of all respondents say climate change is either entirely or mainly caused by humans, compared to 54 percent of the general UK population. But around one in 10 think climate change is caused mainly or entirely by natural processes or is not happening at all.
Forty percent of respondents said they were either ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ worried about climate change, with a further 37 percent saying they were ‘somewhat’ worried.
While only 2.5 percent of Jews said climate change was not happening, researchers found young people in the community were more likely to hold that view than older people – in contrast to the trend in the general population.
Just 0.3 percent of respondents aged 80 and above denied that climate change was happening, compared to 5.5 percent of those aged 16 to 29. Marked differences in opinion were also found to closely correlate with religiosity.
The report found: “Compared with more progressive synagogue members, the unaffiliated and the central Orthodox, the strictly Orthodox are notably more sceptical about climate change, or alternatively, less engaged with the issues.
“As shown, religiosity is also a statistically significant predictor of attitudes for everyone but, critically, it operates in different ways for different groups.
“Notably, for the unaffiliated and the strictly-Orthodox, stronger religiosity correlates with greater scepticism about climate change, but for Liberal and Reform Jews… stronger religiosity correlates with greater climate change consciousness and concern.”
The survey, which had a sample size of 4,152 British Jews was weighted for age, sex and Jewish identity.
Dr Jonathan Boyd, executive director of JPR said: “Climate change is the great global challenge of our time, and the Jewish community needs to play its part in addressing that challenge. JPR’s data is designed to …help inform discussion about what community organisations can and should do.”
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