What do the UK public think about the co-benefits that climate action can bring?

Topics: Economics and Finance, Energy and Low-Carbon Futures, General, Health, Impacts and adaptation, Mitigation
Type: Briefing paper
Publication date: March 2024



Authors: Dr Neil Jennings (Imperial College London), Dr Pauline Paterson (The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), Prof Lorraine Whitmarsh (University of Bath) and Dr Candice Howarth (London School of Economics and Political Science)

Climate action can bring a wide range of co-benefits or ‘win-wins’ such as homes that are more affordable to heat, improved air quality and health, and improved energy security. Understanding what the public think about these co-benefits can help to guide approaches to communicate climate action and ensure that the way in which climate policies are designed is aligned with the issues that are of most concern to the public.

This research summarises findings from a nationally representative sample (on the basis of age, gender and ethnicity) of 1,021 people who were asked to share their opinions about the co-benefits of climate action. People were surveyed via the online survey platform Prolific on Monday 12 February 2024. The headline findings and recommendations are followed by a case study focused on homes that are more affordable to heat. The insights in this slide deck build on findings from a Grantham report published in October 2023, How do UK citizens perceive the co-benefits of climate action? which included survey and focus groups with members of the UK public.


  • The public are concerned about climate change, see its impacts as being negative or very negative, and believe that the government is not taking sufficient action whether on mitigation or adaptation.
  • The public are supportive of the benefits that climate action can bring (eg, improved air quality and health, homes that are more affordable to heat) and perceive many of the benefits to be likely to result from climate action.
  • For some of the co-benefits, awareness is relatively low and/or there is a degree of scepticism that they will be delivered in practice.

Key recommendations 

  • Those communicating climate action to the public should highlight how such measures are a key 
    route to delivering on other issues of public concern.
  • The evidence base on co-benefits should be improved, particularly for co-benefits where the public is unsure whether climate action can deliver the benefit in practice, such as for job creation or reduced inequality. This will help build better understanding and trust in the full set of benefits that climate action can bring and can inform policy design to maximise these outcomes.
  • While there is strong public concern around climate change and the need for more government action, concerns remain around access to clean and affordable alternatives (as highlighted in our case study on heating below) and the extent to which co-benefits can be realised. Stronger public engagement will be important to shape policy design to maximise effectiveness, and to further strengthen public trust and support.
  • To deliver co-benefits in practice and maintain levels of public support for climate action, policies must be just and equitable to ensure that the poorest in society don’t pay disproportionately for the transition.  The following case study from the survey provides an example of this in the context of energy efficiency measures.

Insights from case study: Homes that are more affordable to heat

  • Action to improve the energy efficiency of people’s homes holds widespread public support across the political spectrum.
  • Housing retrofit policies need to ensure the affordability and accessibility of energy efficiency measures for those on lower incomes.
  • Decision makers have a number of options to realise these benefits.
  • Government advisers such as the Climate Change Committee and the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) have outlined a set of steps that government can take to address insulation and heat pump installations.
  • These include the NICs recommendation to invest £1.5-4.5bn/year to cover the full cost of heat pump installations and energy efficiency measures for households on lower incomes.

To learn more about how taking action on climate change can make all our lives better, watch our animation.