Going greener?


This report from UK think tank Bright Blue looks at public attitudes to the net zero carbon emissions commitment.

In 2019, the UK Government enshrined in law a commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Informed by the obligations of the 2015 Paris Agreement, the 2050 target was deemed by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to be the earliest credible date to reach net zero, with the resulting reduction in emissions leading to a rise in global average temperature being below 2C if replicated globally. The 2C threshold is perceived as the point where aggregate effects of climate change become excessively dangerous to humans and the ecosystem. The actions needed to be adopted by individuals, the government and businesses to help achieve net zero are demanding and disruptive. Ambitious and radical policies will be needed across economic sectors. While there has been some polling around the desirability of net zero, there has been insufficient focus on public attitudes to policies required to deliver the net zero target. In particular, public attitudes towards decarbonisation of the supply and demand of energy have received insufficient attention. The energy sector is currently one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, primarily through the heating of homes. Hence, it requires significant transformation which involves moving away from gas boilers towards low-carbon heating systems. Understanding public use of energy and perceptions towards this transformation is essential. Our report explores public attitudes to the credibility of and responsibility for delivering net zero. We especially focus on public awareness, knowledge and perceptions of the changes that need to be made in the energy sector, examining energy supply and the role of energy companies, and the demand for low-carbon heating and home energy efficiency measures. The analysis explores how responses vary by socio-demographic and voting characteristics, allowing us to unearth differentiation in UK public attitudes by social, economic and political divides. Ultimately, the report provides a unique and original comprehensive analysis of public attitudes towards the great net zero challenge.

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