New polling: strong support for increased tax on fossil fuel companies

PRESS RELEASE: New polling shows strong support for increased tax on fossil fuel companies to boost international climate action

  • 60% of the public think increasing taxes or ending subsidies for fossil fuel companies, rather than cuts in other areas of UK spending should be used to deliver the international climate funding that the UK has promised. This rises to 68% of those intending to vote Labour at the next election.
  • Introducing a new tax based on taxing the wealthiest in society was the second most popular after taxing oil and gas companies, with 38% of those polled selecting this option.
  • 50% more people than not believe high income countries who’ve had higher historic emissions have the responsibility to help low income countries more vulnerable to climate impacts (45% vs 30%). 
  • Twice as many people believe that the UK should cancel some or all of the debt of countries that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change as those who do not. (52% vs 26%).

[London, UK, 20/09/23] - A recent poll has highlighted strong public support for the UK government, fossil fuel companies and the wealthy to pay more for climate action measures.

The poll of a nationally and politically representative sample of the UK population sought to gauge public sentiment on global climate efforts during a fortnight of key international moments for climate action. These include the G20 Leaders Summit, the UN Climate Action Summit and the UN Global Stocktake results being announced in the path to the UN’s COP28 in the UAE.

The polling finds that UK public believe that:

Taxing fossil fuel companies should finance international climate commitments: When asked how they preferred the UK to deliver on its international climate funding promise, 60% chose increased taxation or removing subsidies for fossil fuel companies as at least one of their two options. The most favoured options include "Increase taxes on UK fossil fuel companies” chosen by 46% of participants, and "End tax cuts for fossil fuel companies" selected by 41% of respondents. This increased to 68% when asking Labour voters. 

Richer countries have responsibility for global climate efforts: 45% of respondents (50% more than did not) believe that high-income countries, which have historically emitted higher levels of carbon, bear the responsibility to assist low-income countries that are more vulnerable to climate impacts by reducing emissions and aiding in climate change adaptation. Only 30% did not.

A wealth tax to support international climate initiatives: When asked about raising taxes to support lower-income countries in their efforts to reduce climate change, the top preferences were 1. "Introduce specific taxes on oil and gas companies," chosen by 45% of participants, and 2. "Introduce a new tax based on taxing the wealthiest in society," selected by 38%.

Debt cancellation for vulnerable countries: When questioned, 52% were supportive, twice as many as the 26% against. 41% of respondents supported "Yes - cancel some of the debt that countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change hold with the UK.”, with 11% choosing “Yes - cancel all of the debt.”

The polling was conducted  ahead of a new report from Green New Deal Rising and Climate Vanguard, emphasising the importance of international cooperation in achieving domestic transformation and global climate justice. First, it calls for debt relief in the Global South, highlighting that debt currently hinders climate action and development in this region. Second, it proposes funding climate finance through measures like a windfall tax on fossil fuel companies and wealth redistribution. Third, it advocates for reforming international trade rules to align them with climate goals. Finally, the program underscores the need to support migrants including those displaced by climate change and sees this as an opportunity to demonstrate leadership and humane reform.

These poll results underscore the public's strong support for the UK's commitment to more international climate leadership, reflecting the growing awareness and concern among the public regarding climate change and the role of high-income countries in addressing the global climate crisis.

Hannah Martin, Co Executive Director at Green New Deal Rising said:

“Instead of the weak leadership we saw yesterday from the Prime Minister, it’s clear that people from all over the UK want to see a bold, internationalist Green New Deal which improves the lives of our friends and neighbours at home as well as people around the world. Super rich fossil fuel companies and wealthy nations bear huge responsibility for the climate crisis and they should be the ones to foot the bill for the damage, not ordinary people. 

Despite Sunak’s best attempts to shy away from our climate commitments, the UK public understands that fairness should be at the heart of our approach to international climate support and they also understand now more than ever who is to blame for the situation we find ourselves in.  The winners and losers from the current situation couldn’t be more stark. People living on the frontlines of the climate crisis are facing devastating droughts, famines, heatwaves, and wildfires while the companies responsible are laughing to the bank.

The UK’s current failure to step up and deliver the necessary climate finance will be viewed as a historic betrayal.  That’s why we are calling on the next Government to act with responsibility, care and compassion and introduce the measures necessary to raise the living standards of ordinary people around the world.’

For media inquiries, please contact Hannah Martin - +44 (0)7801 212 958


  • Polling of 2,051 UK Adults, Weighted to be nationally and politically representative was conducted 13-15 September by Opinium.
  • Green New Deal Rising is a movement of young people fighting for social, economic and climate justice.  

The group is campaigning for the Labour party to pass legislation to enact these demands in the first 100 days of its new Government: 

  1. Expand Public Ownership of energy, water, transport and land.
  2. Tax Wealth Now, taxing wealth and capital at the same rate as income and introducing a series of wealth taxes to raise 50 bn.
  3. Promise a Green Jobs Guarantee and secure income for all, investing in the low carbon economy, to create an abundance of high value well paid jobs in every community alongside a strong social security system that provides people with an income at the rate of the cost of living.
  4. Enacting a National Nature Service;
  5. Make Polluters Pay with a permanent and progressive windfall tax on fossil fuel companies and corporations profiting off the climate crisis, leading the charge in setting up an international windfall tax which is redistributed as reparations to those on the frontlines of climate change and global inequality.