Pin It
Offset Earth #VoteLeaves campaign
Courtesy Offset Earth

Brexit was talked about twice as much as the climate crisis in 2019

New data reveals the extent to which publications and social media ignore the climate emergency, instead focusing on the UK’s struggle to leave the EU

When the world ultimately bursts into flames, the last thing we’ll all hear is Boris Johnson declaring he’ll “get Brexit done” – in part because he won’t shut TF up about it, but also because new statistics show that this year, Brexit has been spoken about twice as much worldwide as the climate emergency.

According to social enterprise Offset Earth, in 2019 there were 2.2 million – almost 50 per cent – more articles on Brexit across the world than there were on the climate crisis. While on Twitter, there were 4.6 million mentions about the UK leaving the EU, and just 108,661 about climate change. The statistics also show that there have been 7.8 million more minutes broadcast on Brexit – the equivalent to 14 years. A decade and a half!

Carried out in partnership with software company Signal AI, the research concludes that Brexit has commanded 690 per cent more conversation, “significantly diverting public attention away from the most pressing subject of our times”, according to Offset Earth’s co-founder Elliot Coad. 

In an attempt to combat this, the organisation has launched its #VoteLeaves campaign, encouraging the British public to drive the climate conversation.

“The problem with the climate crisis is that it’s so invisible,” Coad tells Dazed. “It feels so far away and like it will never happen, whereas with Brexit you can visualise it. We’ve spent the last three years talking about Brexit, instead of spending that crucial time turning things around for the climate.”

Coad believes that “talking, engaging, and getting behind everything Greta Thunberg stands for” is essential in raising awareness and encouraging action. “Every single time we buy a dairy-free milk, for example, that sends a strong message. Government and policy makers will only take heed from the signals that we get out there.” 

Although he’s been a Green Party voter for years, Coad has decided to back Labour at the upcoming general election. “Reading the climate aspect of Labour’s manifesto, I was really bowled over by it,” he explains, “It’s a proper sea change; extremely progressive.” 

“Reading the climate aspect of Labour’s manifesto, I was really bowled over by it. It’s a proper sea change” – Elliot Coad, Offset Earth

Just today, the party has promised to plant two billion trees by 2040, and create ten new national parks during its first term. Speaking at the launch of the policy, Jeremy Corbyn said: “This election is our last chance to tackle the climate and environment emergency. Labour is on your side and on the side of the environment.”

Unlike Corbyn – who has consistently been vocal about the climate crisis – Boris Johnson continues to exclusively centre Brexit in his election campaign, even refusing to join a live Channel 4 debate tonight about the climate. Rumour has it, the broadcaster has commissioned an ice sculpture of the prime minister to melt during the show – though they have refused to comment on this. Coad asserts the Tory government poses “major dangers” to the climate. “It’s almost not part of their manifesto,” he explains. “There are some nods to climate change, but what they’re proposing is what they’ve done previously, which is very low in action.”

Greenpeace analysis has today revealed that just above the Brexit Party, the Tories rank worst for their climate change policies. Though the Green Party topped the list with 19 points out of a possible 20, Labour came a close second with 16, while the Conservatives scored just seven, and the Brexit Party were at the bottom of the pile with one point. The report said the Tories’ “support for a number of polluting industries and massive spending commitments for new road-building are at odds with their net-zero target”.

With their #VoteLeaves campaign, Offset Earth wants people to “challenge their local MPs and candidates on social media to outline their climate change strategies and to redress the balance so that Brexit no longer casts such a dark shadow over climate issues”. 

The organisation previously demonstrated against Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, whose far-right government was arguably to blame for the summer’s devastating Amazon rainforest fires. In a ‘fuck you’ to the climate denying politician, Offset Earth planted trees in the president’s name in a crowd-funded ‘protest forest’ in Madagascar. “We can’t undo all the devastation caused by the rainforest fires,” Coad said at the time, “but together we can make a positive difference while also making our voices heard.”

See Offset Earth’s full study here.