A recent paper produced by the Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations (CAST) at the University of Cardiff reveals some interesting points about how attitudes have changed following the pandemic. The work, which includes the results from two surveys, is titled ‘How has Covid-19 impacted low-carbon lifestyles and attitudes towards climate action’: it can be found here.  

Some of the key points made in the paper are:

  • There have been substantial changes in sustainability-related routines; reductions in waste, travel and consumption; rise in low-carbon recreation such as virtual and outdoor exercise, gardening and creative hobbies; and experimentation with alternative daily schedules. There is, however, a wide diversity of experience.
  • Concern about climate change has increased since August last year, and there is greater support for climate-change mitigation policies including measures to decrease meat consumption and flying.
  • When lockdown is lifted, there is a risk of recidivism into pre-existing habits without appropriate infrastructure, incentives, and norms to encourage and lock in new low-carbon routines.

Some of the noteworthy findings are:

  • 30.6% of people reported that they would work from home a little or a lot more after lockdown than they did before, although a majority reported that it would be about the same as before the lockdown.
  • 52% intended to use public transport less after lockdown compared to before, whereas only 4.9% intended to use public transport more and 43.1% said they would not change how much they used it.
  • More intended to reduce the amount they fly for holiday or leisure purposes (47%) post-lockdown than planned to increase it (8.3%) or to maintain pre-lockdown levels (44.7%).
  • A significant reduction (72%) in food waste was reported with more food was prepared at home. There was an increase in recycling and a decreased purchasing of disposable items during lockdown, adding up to a significantly altered pattern of consumption and waste from UK households.
  • Most people (86%) identified at least one thing they would like to keep doing after lockdown restrictions were removed, and several identified many low-carbon habits would be pursued. Given that new habits take 2-3 months to form, the lockdowns in most countries are long enough to establish new, enduring routines so recidivism may occur.

The report concludes: ‘So, while Covid-19 may represent a unique window of opportunity to promote low-carbon lifestyles, this is only likely to translate into long-term change with appropriate infrastructure, incentives, and norms to encourage and lock in new low-carbon routines.’


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