Skip to content

Insights into public awareness of COP26 and climate

New research published today by the Development Engagement Lab reveals less than 50% of publics in Great Britain, France, Germany and the United States know the meaning of the ‘net zero’ target ahead of global climate summit.

In their report, the Development Engagement Lab pull statistics from nationally representative surveys conducted by YouGov in Great Britain, France, Germany and United States, and have published results that illustrate the stark reality that the majority of the general public are not familiar with climate jargon or even the COP26 conference itself. 

These findings highlight the need for climate organisations and professionals tackling the climate crisis to prioritise accessibility within their work – in particular, in the United Kingdom, results show that the general public does support the dedication of time and resources to fighting climate change, however if the activism and work being done does not translate out of the third sector and into public perception, then change cannot be implemented on a nationwide scale, let alone across the global sphere.

Jennifer Hudson, director of the Development Engagement Lab and Professor of Political Behaviour at University College London said:

“It’s clear from the data that the public are not aware or well-informed about both the net zero target as well as the COP26 conference in general. A majority of people in both Germany and the U.S. have not heard of COP26, while the French public are a little more aware at 28% and Great Britain the most aware, at 35%, though this might be down to the conference being hosted in Scotland”

“Assuming that people don’t care about climate change because they don’t know much about COP26 or the Paris Agreement is flawed thinking. Our research shows overwhelmingly that people care about the next steps, and particularly want to see government action on these issues.”

For more information, or to find out more about the Development Engagement Lab, contact Molly Anders at

Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest news, events, resources and funding updates.

Sign up now