UK public back delivering on net zero manifesto commitment, without a referendum by a ratio of more than 2 to 1

UK public want the government to introduce measures to meet net zero carbon emissions without a referendum by a ratio of more than 2 to 1, according to a new nationally representative poll by YouGov.

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By George Smeeton

info@eciu.net

The British public oppose holding a referendum on plans for net zero carbon emissions by a ratio of more than 2 to 1, according to a new nationally representative poll by YouGov.

The UK public want the government to introduce measures to meet net zero carbon emissions without a referendum by a ratio of more than 2 to 1, according to a new nationally representative poll by YouGov.

The poll, commissioned by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, found that only 21% of the public - 1 in 5 - said the government should hold a referendum on net zero before attempting to meet its climate change target, compared with 50% who said that there is no need to hold such a referendum as the commitment was in the government’s last general election manifesto; the remainder chose ‘don’t know’. A comfortable majority or plurality of every subgroup, including Conservative, Labour, Leave and Remain voters, believe there should not be a referendum on net zero before introducing measures to meet this target and cut emissions that cause climate change.

The poll also found that backing for a referendum on net zero is lower among British adults than a vote on many other issues, including assisted dying, privatisation of the NHS, clamping down on corporate tax avoidance and raising taxes on high earners.

The poll follows a separate YouGov survey - commissioned by a group that disputes climate science - which appeared to find support for a net zero referendum. The new poll repeated the question wording of the previous poll, alongside alternative topics, and found that the public in theory support a referendum on every single topic tested.

Sepi Golzari-Munro, Acting Director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said:

“There’s overwhelming public support for ending the UK’s carbon pollution and most people just want the government to fulfill its manifesto commitment and get on with the job. Parties that promised net zero in their manifestos at the last general election won 94% of the vote. The democratic mandate is overwhelming. Meanwhile the public now rank the issue as top of their list of concerns, second only to the Covid 19 pandemic, and two-thirds believe that climate change is as serious as the pandemic and want to see climate prioritised in the green economic recovery.

“People rightly want a say in how the country is run, so most people say yes to the idea of referendums if they’re asked, almost regardless of the topic. But if a referendum means slowing down actions to stop climate change, or abandoning a manifesto promise, then the public don’t want it.”

Of the potential referendum options proposed, the public’s top three priorities for topics were

  1. Prevent companies that avoid paying tax from operating in the UK (74% support for holding referendum)
  2. Prevent any privatisation of the NHS (69%)
  3. Allow doctors to help some terminally ill patients to end their own lives (66%).

Half of the topics tested were higher priorities for a referendum than net-zero.


ENDS

Notes to editors:

  1. Fieldwork for the YouGov poll of 1743 UK adults was conducted on 28-29 October 2021.
  2. The Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, SNP, Greens and Plaid Cymru all promised a net-zero target of 2050 or earlier in their 2019 general election manifestos. Between them these parties received 94.3% of the vote.
  3. Public concern on climate change has been steadily rising in recent years, becoming the second-top issue that Brits are most concerned about, second only to the Covid 19 pandemic. https://www.ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en-uk/public-concern-about-climate-change-and-pollution-doubles-near-record-level
  4. Polling finds that two-thirds of the public believe that climate change is as serious as the pandemic and want to see climate prioritised in the green economic recovery.
  5. Just over two-thirds of adults (69%) are interested in moving away from natural gas heating if made easy to do so. This figure rises to three quarters of families with children (75%)” https://eciu.net/media/press-releases/2021/three-quarters-of-brits-in-dark-about-boiler-pollution
  6. Six in ten (61 percent) respondents would consider getting behind the wheel of an electric car if they were to purchase a new or used vehicle in 2022.”https://www.electricdrives.tv/post/an-online-yougov-poll-shows-six-in-ten-drivers-would-consider-buying-an-electric-car-in-2022
  7. Climate Assembly UK: The path to net zero: https://www.climateassembly.uk/report/

For more information:

George Smeeton, Head of Communications, ECIU, Tel: 07894 571 153, email: george.smeeton@eciu.net

Kathy Grenville, Communications Officer, ECIU, Tel: 07501874214, email: kathy.grenville@eciu.net

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