UK public wants oil giants to pay for climate damage, poll suggests

A survey from the charity Christian Aid has found widespread support for greater tax increases on record profits to pay for climate reparations.

Danny Halpin
Thursday 04 May 2023 08:49 BST
Christian Aid polling suggests the majority of the UK public want oil giants to take responsibility for damaging the climate (James Manning/PA)
Christian Aid polling suggests the majority of the UK public want oil giants to take responsibility for damaging the climate (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)

More than three quarters of UK adults believe it is wrong for oil and gas companies to make record profits without taking responsibility for damage to the environment, new polling suggests.

Shell has followed BP in announcing better-than-expected profits for the first quarter of this year.

It made nearly 1.7 billion dollars (£1.4 billion) more in profit than experts had predicted, while BP made around £500 million more.

Record profits by fossil fuel companies like Shell and BP should be a wake-up call, and spur real accountability for the damage they are causing

Patrick Watt, Christian Aid

Both companies have also reported record profits for the previous year because of the rise in oil and gas prices following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The announcements have sparked calls for a stronger windfall tax on their UK operations, with Labour’s shadow climate secretary Ed Miliband calling BP’s “enormous profits” the “unearned, unexpected windfalls of war.”

New polling by the charity Christian Aid suggests the UK public would back another tax on oil giants to support countries vulnerable to climate instability through a loss and damage fund.

At Cop27 last year, world nations made a landmark agreement to set up such a fund which would see wealth transferred from richer to poorer countries to cover the cost of climate disasters.

However, the details on who exactly pays into the fund and who receives the support have yet to be agreed.

The Christian Aid polling, conducted by Savanta on 2,181 UK adults between April 21 and 23, found 63% of respondents would back the Government in taxing oil companies to pay for the loss and damage fund.

Women and people above 35 were more likely to support such a tax than men and 18 to 34-year-olds, while 20% said the Government should not tax oil majors in this way.

Only 6% disagreed with the statement that it is unfair for oil and gas companies to make record profits without taking responsibility for the damage caused to the climate, while 54% strongly agreed.

Patrick Watt, chief executive of Christian Aid, said: “Across the planet, it is the people who have done the least to cause the climate crisis who are facing the gravest climate shocks, and the damage that causes to harvests, homes, and human life.

Record profits by fossil fuel companies like Shell and BP should be a wake-up call, and spur real accountability for the damage they are causing.

“That’s not just Christian Aid’s view, it’s the view of an overwhelming majority of the British public.

“The UK Government should be ensuring that major polluters meet their moral responsibility to repair the damage they have caused to the climate.”

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