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WWF - Largest ever UK analysis reveals public's top options for tackling the climate crisis
A new report reveals that the most popular climate policies among the public would go even further than the UK’s 2030 emissions targets while avoiding hitting the lowest-income families in the pocket. However, to make this happen, the UK government needs to put clear action plans in place now, ensuring the transition to Net Zero is open and affordable to all.
The report, The Climate Consensus, from WWF and cross-party think tank Demos, funded by ScottishPower and National Grid, analyses the choices of nearly 20,000 people, representing the whole UK population. Using a new interactive climate calculator, the public selected their preferred policies in areas including: diet, flying, public transport and home heating.
This is the largest analysis of the public’s climate policy preferences ever completed in the UK.
The most popular policies to meet the 2030 target – with between 77% and 94% support – were the same regardless of where people lived, their household income, or political affiliation.
The public’s choices include:
- A moderate carbon tax on polluting manufacturing and construction businesses of £75 per tonne of carbon emissions, with subsidies for industries struggling to reduce emissions to invest in new technologies and processes. (94%)
- Better integrated public transport co-ordinated by local government, making it easier and more appealing to use. (93%)
- Food campaigns and support from government, supermarkets and food companies to make plant-based diets easier to choose and cook so meat and dairy consumption is reduced by 10% per person. (93%)
- Ensuring a comprehensive UK-wide electric car and van charging network is in place by 2028. (91%)
- Increasing flying costs – with the majority of people (62% of the total) supporting this for frequent fliers (89%)
- Some restrictions on cars in city centres and on motorways – some restrictions on cars entering major cities and a reduction of the speed limit to 60mph on motorways and dual carriageways to reduce pollution (82%)
- More sustainable farming, and increasing and conserving forests and wildlife habitats with support for less intensive farming and paying farmers and land-owners to create and restore habitats, including forests and peatland. (79%)
- A much more ambitious approach for low carbon heating in homes. This would include: active government-led schemes to expand the installation of heat pumps and insulation, backed by grants covering the full cost for low-income households, as well as low-interest loans, helping create UK jobs. (77%)
If the UK Government enacted these policies, the UK’s emissions in 2030 could be reduced by 42% compared to 2019 – higher than the UK government’s current 39% target. Significantly, with the right policies in place, it would not impact on weekly costs for the lowest income households and could even save them money. The public’s most popular policy choices are also estimated to support a million jobs by 20301.
For a fair and successful move towards Net Zero emissions by 2050, the report shows the public support the UK government leading a well-planned and orderly low carbon transition. The UK government should lay out clear plans for how this will happen in its upcoming Net Zero Strategy.
Tanya Steele, CEO of WWF, said: “The British public have chosen the future they want – one with green jobs, clean air and thriving nature – and which doesn’t hit the worst off in the pocket. This is within our grasp, but only if the UK government listens and sets out a clear plan and strategy for getting there.
“We won’t forget that we’ve been promised a safer climate, for us and for the generations to come. If we act now, there is still a chance to shape a better and more resilient future.”
Polly Mackenzie, Chief Executive of Demos, said: “For the Government to truly meet its climate targets and save our environment, they need to bring the public with them on that journey. We asked the British public to set out their chosen path to meet the UK’s climate targets, and they’ve given a clear answer.
“There is an overwhelming consensus of support behind solutions that would reduce carbon emissions beyond the UK’s targets, and that could create millions of jobs without leaving those on the lowest-incomes behind. With so much at stake and the political mandate to take bold action, the UK Government must listen to the public and urgently set out a strategy that will provide a greener, stronger and better future for us all.”
Duncan Burt, Chief Sustainability Officer at National Grid, a Principal Partner of COP26, said: “In the run-up to COP26, it’s incredibly important that people across the UK feel part of the conversation on climate change. That’s why this study is significant, giving government significant insight into the policies the public are willing to support and the action they are happy to take. To tackle climate change, it will take actions big and small from all of us, to make a difference.”
Keith Anderson, Chief Executive of ScottishPower, a Principal Partner of COP26, said: “To deliver a decarbonised future in time, we must move faster. We know that and this research absolutely shows that the UK public knows that too. They get the urgency of the climate emergency.
“A green recovery – one that kick-starts the economy, spurs investment and creates jobs, all the while speeding up progress to Net Zero – is not only the right thing to do. Faced with the extent of our climate responsibilities, it’s the only thing to do.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
The Climate Consensus Report can be found here
The Climate Calculator remains open for people to explore their preferred climate policies. It can be found at www.climatecalculator.co.uk
The policy choices described above were made by a nationally representative sample of 19,862 UK adults who used the Climate Calculator in July and August 2021. The poll carried a representational amount of people in English regions and Scotland and Wales. They were selected from every constituency in the UK. The Climate Calculator makes clear that for users in Scotland and Wales there are key differences in policy in the sectors used in the analysis. Areas such as heat, travel, farming and land use policy are largely devolved, and the Governments in these countries have separate targets and dates for their Net Zero ambitions.
WWF (Worldwide Fund for Nature) is one of the world’s largest independent conservation organisations, active in nearly 100 countries. Our supporters – more than five million of them – are helping us to restore nature and to tackle the main causes of nature’s decline, particularly the food system and climate change. We’re fighting to ensure a world with thriving habitats and species, and to change hearts and minds so it becomes unacceptable to overuse our planet’s resources.
WWF. For your world.
For wildlife, for people, for nature.
Find out more about our work, past and present at wwf.org.uk
Demos is Britain’s leading cross-party think-tank: an independent, educational charity, which produces original and innovative research.
About National Grid in the UK
- We own and operate the electricity transmission network in England and Wales, with day-to-day responsibility for balancing supply and demand. We also operate, but do not own, the Scottish networks. Our networks comprise approximately 7,200 kilometres (4,474 miles) of overhead line, 1,500 kilometres (932 miles) of underground cable and 342 substations.
- We own and operate the gas National Transmission System in Great Britain, with day-to-day responsibility for balancing supply and demand. Our network comprises approximately 7,660 kilometres (4,760 miles) of high-pressure pipe and 618 above-ground installations.
- As Great Britain’s System Operator (SO) we make sure gas and electricity is transported safely and efficiently from where it is produced to where it is consumed. From April 2019, Electricity System Operator (ESO) is a new standalone business within National Grid, legally separate from all other parts of the National Grid Group. This will provide the right environment to deliver a balanced and impartial ESO that can realise real benefits for consumers as we transition to a more decentralised, decarbonised electricity system.
- Other UK activities mainly relate to businesses operating in competitive markets outside of our core regulated businesses; including interconnectors, gas metering activities and a liquefied natural gas (LNG) importation terminal – all of which are now part of National Grid Ventures. National Grid Property is responsible for the management, clean-up and disposal of surplus sites in the UK. Most of these are former gas works.
Find out more about the energy challenge and how National Grid is helping find solutions to some of the challenges we face at https://www.nationalgrid.com/group/news
National Grid undertakes no obligation to update any of the information contained in this release, which speaks only as at the date of this release, unless required by law or regulation.
ScottishPower is the first integrated energy company in the UK to generate 100% green electricity. A Principal Partner for the United Nations climate change conference (COP26) to be held in the city later this year, ScottishPower is investing £10billion in the UK over five years – £6 million every working day – to double its renewable generation capacity and drive forward decarbonisation.
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