Cost of living crisis stopping households from taking climate action

Published  10 November 2022
   3 min read
  • Recent weather events, such as heatwaves, floods and fires in the UK this year, have made nearly two thirds (60%) of adults more concerned about climate change
  • 38% think that it’s too expensive to live more sustainably creating a barrier to climate action
  • A third (34%) are more concerned with their energy bills as opposed to living sustainably 

Recent weather events, such as heatwaves, floods and fires this year, have made nearly two thirds (60%) of people in the UK more concerned about climate change. A further 59% are also worried about weather reports from other countries, including in Australia and America, according to new research from mutual life and pensions company Royal London, which is introducing new social enterprises to its Changemakers Programme, now in its second year.

Two out of five (42%) have also said that the UN climate summit, COP26, has made an impact on their climate change concerns – and 40% said that having children and grandchildren has made them worried about climate change.

This has spurred many to take action and live more sustainably in the last 12 months. Most popular planned changes include reducing plastic usage (71%), shopping locally (62%), driving less (53%) or buying an electric or hybrid vehicle (32%), and consuming less meat and dairy (49%).

However, the cost of living crisis is making it difficult for people in the UK to take action on climate change.

The majority (65%) are concerned about the cost of living and a third (34%) are understandably now more concerned with their energy bills as opposed to living sustainably. Many people are taking cost-saving measures this autumn and winter with more than a quarter (26%) planning to buy fewer or cheaper Christmas presents. Shockingly, 12% are even anticipating skipping meals. Sustainability is unlikely to be the priority with almost four in ten (38%) thinking that it’s too expensive to live more sustainably.

Royal London is committed to helping facilitate a Just Transition: where we as a society move to a low carbon economy in a way that is as fair and inclusive to everyone as possible. To help bridge the gap between moving into a sustainable world while combating the cost of living crisis, Royal London has announced ten new social enterprises as part of its Changemakers Programme, now in its second year. This year’s enterprises have been chosen based on the unique solutions they provide to help people move fairly to a sustainable world and promote financial resilience. Each Changemaker will benefit from a £20,000 grant, as well as extensive business support from The School for Social Entrepreneurs, which will continue for two years. This year’s cohort include:

Bristol Green Capital Partnership (BGCP)
Pocket Forests
Croydon Community Energy
Community Retrofits Ireland
Remake Scotland
Circular 11
Energise Sussex Coast
Lendology (Wessex Resolutions)

Sarah Pennells, Consumer Finance Specialist at Royal London, says:

"Climate change and sustainability are issues which need addressing urgently. Living sustainably doesn't have to cost more and some measures, such as reducing the food and heat you waste, can save money. However, many of us need a helping hand to get started. We believe that these inspiring social enterprises can provide real solutions to these issues, with innovation at their heart, which is why they’ve been chosen as our Changemakers this year. We are delighted to support people who are looking at new ways to ensure that a just transition and moving fairly to a sustainable world is a possibility for everyone."

Notes to editor

Find out more about each of the Changemakers and the programme at

This is the second year the programme is running. Existing Changemakers have been helping wider society to improve their financial resilience, whilst this year’s new focus is on helping everyone move fairly towards a sustainable world (Just Transition).


Royal London surveyed 2,000 nationally representative UK adults aged over 18. Research was carried out by Opinium between 14 October and 18 October 2022.

Media contacts

Antonia Phillips / Joe Hirst  
Teamspirit PR

About Royal London

Royal London is the largest mutual life, pensions and investment company in the UK, with assets under management of £147 billion, 8.7 million policies in force and 4,232 employees. Figures quoted are as at 31 December 2022. 

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