Showing leadership on climate change gives Labour poll boost, new report says

© Richard Whitcombe/

Voters are more likely to support Labour when the party shows leadership on climate change, polling has found following the launch of a new group aimed at strengthening the labour movement’s approach to the environment.

A newly established organisation, the Labour Climate and Environment Forum (LCEF), published a report today that found that the public are more likely to support the Labour Party when they hear Keir Starmer talking about the climate.

According to polling for the paper, Powering up: the electoral benefits of Labour’s climate leadership, the proportion of people who said they will vote Labour was higher among those who were shown a video of Starmer talking about climate change (53%) than those shown a clip of him talking about another issue (47%).

The report found voters were more likely to say Starmer is doing well as leader, by four points, after seeing him speak about climate issues. Of those who saw Rachel Reeves talking about the climate, 35% thought she would make a better Chancellor than Jeremy Hunt compared to 31% who saw her talk about public services.

Announcing its launch this evening, LCEF said it believes that climate and environment are “issues of social justice and economic prosperity that should sit comfortably at the heart of the labour movement”.

Ed Miliband welcomed LCEF’s launch as an “important addition to the labour movement” that the Shadow Climate Change and Net Zero said would help to “bring together parliamentarians, trade unions, policy-makers and the public to ensure that climate and environmental issues are hardwired into everything we do”.

“People understand that urgent climate action is also the way to lower bills, strengthen our energy security, create good jobs, and leave a better future for our children and grandchildren. I look forward to working with LCEF on delivering a fairer, greener future for Britain,” he added.

The group, which is not formally affiliated to the Labour Party, said it will “provide ideas, equip policymakers and build consensus across the labour movement” in order to “increase ambition and identify how best to tackle the climate and environment emergency”.

Its report found that people view climate action as one of the best ways to encourage economic growth and tackle the cost-of-living crisis; over three quarters of people said investing in renewables and improving housing energy efficiency is a key measure to improve economic growth and tackle rising costs, compared with 48% who supported cutting taxes.

The polling for the report, carried out by Opinium, also suggested that the top three environmental concerns for voters are nature loss, deforestation and water pollution. 80% of people identified cleaning up the UK’s water as a moderate or major priority, making it the top environmental concern.

LCEF director Paul McNamee argued that the report published today “shows what many have known for a long time – that action on climate and environment is popular with voters, brings electoral benefits and improves the public’s perception of senior spokespeople like Keir and Rachel”.

“The Labour Party has taken great strides on this issue in the past year, including its £28bn green prosperity plan, and LCEF is ready to work with people across the labour movement to embed this work and develop this exciting agenda,” he said.

McNamee worked in London mayor Sadiq Khan’s office, advising on environment and energy including the ultra-low emission zone expansion and COP27. He also previously worked as head of politics at environmental think tank Green Alliance and on the public affairs team of international conservation charity RSPB.

Six trustees serve on the board of LCEF: former Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones; Labour peer Baroness Young of Old Scone; Kate Bell, assistant general secretary of the TUC; Camden councillor Rishi Madlani; Tobias Garnett, a former human rights lawyer and current political adviser who worked on Starmer’s leadership campaign; and executive director of policy, advocacy and campaigns at Save the Children UK Kirsty McNeill.

Shadow environment minister Daniel Zeichner said: “I warmly welcome the establishment of LCEF, which will work alongside established groups to ensure that climate and environment issues are at the heart of everything the next Labour government does. That’s good for all our futures, and good for Labour too.”

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