This was originally posted on Carbon Brief, on 11 September.
A new poll of MPs has found widespread doubts about climate science, particularly among Tory MPs.
The poll, conducted for PR Week by Populus and reported in the Guardian, found that 51% of MPs think that man-made climate change is “an established scientific fact”. Two in five think it is a theory that “has not yet been conclusively proved”, while nearly one in ten say man-made climate change is “environmentalist propaganda”.
The findings suggest that MPs have similar views on climate science to those of the general public. A poll in August 2013 by Opinium for Carbon Brief, with similar questions, found that 56% believe that climate change is happening and is caused by humans.
But the new poll shows dramatic contrasts in attitudes of MPs of different parties. While 73% of Labour MPs think man-made climate change is a scientific fact, only three in ten Tory MPs say the same. Nearly one in five Tory MPs say they think it is purely propaganda.
The sample of Liberal Democrats is too small for meaningful analysis. While the sample of the other main parties is larger, it still gives a margin of error of around +/- 12pts for Tory MPs and +/- 13pts for Labour MPs. Nevertheless, the gap in the results is large enough to suggest that Tory MPs have views about climate science that are, on average, very different from those of the general public.
Such a level of doubt about climate science among Tories might appear surprising. When the Climate Change Act was passed in October 2008, only three Tory MPs voted against it.
But this is not the first polling evidence of such views among Tory MPs about energy and climate change. A separate poll of MPs, conducted in July 2014 by ComRes, found similar differences in opinions about renewable energy.