MP poll: wrong on public support for onshore wind and don’t understand basic climate science

Nine out of ten (86%) support the UK’s net zero climate target, but 26% of MPs believe that “we can stop climate change without reaching net zero”.

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By George Smeeton

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A new poll of MPs has found that almost nine out of ten (86%) support the UK’s net zero climate target including 80% of Conservative and 92% of Labour MPs. Only 14% of Conservative and 2% of Labour MPs oppose it.

In spite of this 26% of MPs, including 44% Conservative MPs and 0 of Labour MPs believe that “we can stop climate change without reaching net zero”.

Prof Emily Shuckburgh director of Cambridge Zero, said: “It’s deeply troubling that any MP would have the basics of climate science so wrong. The droughts, floods and heatwaves will only get worse unless we stop adding to the problem, by stopping putting more gases into the atmosphere. You can’t argue against net zero if you want to stop climate change. It’s arguing for a poorer, less stable future.”

The polling also showed MPs to be out of touch with their constituents on support for onshore wind. Almost half of MPs (47%) thought their constituents would oppose a new onshore wind farm in their area, including two thirds (68%) of Conservative and 30% of Labour MPs, whereas a parallel survey found that 71% of the public support new onshore wind farms in their local area. Of those who voted Conservative in the 2019 election, 63% said they had a “favourable” view of onshore wind and 68% said they would support new onshore wind in their area.

Peter Chalkley, Director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said:

“Some of the current debate around net zero seems to deliberately divorce itself from climate change. The simple fact of the matter is climate change won’t be halted unless we collectively hit net zero emissions. The public is clear in its support for tackling climate change and the net zero target. It’s also clear in its support for onshore wind. Our door is always open.”

He added:

“Britons also see the economic growth potential of the net zero sector that is already worth £71billion to the UK, but on the flipside are concerned by other countries getting ahead in the race to build renewables and electric car factories. It’s the levelling up communities that are benefitting most from the net zero transition and so stand to lose big if the UK slows down."

The recently published public attitudes survey from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero also showed that a majoring of the public would support onshore wind and solar development in their area.

Last year the Government committed to relax the planning rules, subject to consultation on how to achieve ‘local consent’, for the new onshore wind development. Since then it has suggested some tweaks to the planning rules, but many advocates of onshore wind think this does not go far enough, with the effectively moratorium, allowing only one objection to a planning application to potentially curtail a whole project.


MP Polling conducted by YouGov among 103 MPs between 9th March – 7th April 2023

Public polling conducted by YouGov. Sample size 2006 adults in GB between 6th – 11th April 2023

Department for Energy Security and Net Zero public attitudes tracker (Spring 2023, UK)

Mapping the net zero economy (ECIU 2023)

MPs campaigning against onshore wind thought less of by voters (November 2022)