Neoliberalism and the Environment: Are We Aware of Appropriate Action to Save the Planet and Do We Think We Are Doing Enough?
Authors: Jones, E.-A. and Stafford, R.
We currently face several interlinked environmental crises, including climate change, habitat destruction and biodiversity loss. However, many governments seem unwilling to take strong and immediate action to address these threats, preferring to promote neoliberal approaches to allow consumers and the general public to make environmentally friendly choices. This is despite neoliberal approaches being much less likely to be successful than government leadership, taxation, subsidies, and legislation in addressing environmental issues. In this study, we examine public perception of environmental threats and solutions to these threats in a survey mainly completed in the UK. Climate change is seen as the biggest issue, likely due to recent activist campaigns and subsequent media attention on the issue. Neoliberal attitudes, such as green consumer choices to environmental concerns, do still dominate in a series of possible presented solutions, and they score more highly than lifestyle changes, such as changing diet. However, when questioned specifically about plastic pollution, government intervention to ban all unnecessary plastic scored very strongly, indicating a shift from a consumer-driven response. Furthermore, most participants think they are at best only partly “doing their bit” to protect the environment. The results demonstrate that the public is aware that not enough is happening to protect the environment and provide evidence that there is willingness for stronger government intervention to address environmental issues; however, there is potential resistance to major lifestyle changes.