The Climate Consensus

‘Largest ever’ UK analysis reveals public’s top options for tackling the climate crisis

Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod

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Published: 12 October 2021

This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod

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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. 

‘Overwhelming consensus of support’

The report, The Climate Consensus, from WWF and cross-party think tank Demos, 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.  

‘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.’

POLLY MACKENZIE
Chief executive of Demos

Supporting 1 million jobs

If the UK Government enacted these policies, the UK’s emissions in 2030 could be reduced by 42% compared with 2019 – higher than the government’s current 39% target.

Significantly, putting the right policies in place 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 2030.

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.

Popular climate policies

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%)

‘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.’

TANYA STEELE
CEO, WWF

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