Public Consultation + Political Engagement

The growing divide over net zero

Battle lines are already being drawn over the drive to achieving net zero ahead of the next UK General Election, according to new BECG research.

Just six months on from COP26, only a third of Conservative MPs indicated they would make net zero a campaign issue on the doorstep, compared with 84%of Labour MPs.

The research carried out by pollsters Savanta ComRes, reveals a widening disparity in party attitudes towards achieving net zero as well as differing attitudes across the UK both in Parliament and within local government.

Whilst three-quarters of MPs in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland say they will be campaigning on net zero at the next General Election, less than half of MPs in England say they will be doing so.

Across the North, the results are even more stark.

Of the MPs surveyed, only 9% said they plan to make net zero a ‘key campaign issue’ at the next General Election, whilst 18% said they plan to campaign against the prioritization of net zero, in favour of other issues. This is a disappointing result for those promoting the region’s push towards greener energy generation, carbon capture and the hydrogen economy.

Better news from local government

In contrast to the MPs surveyed, local councillors are far more likely (70%) to use net zero as a campaigning issue at their next local election and say that climate and environmental matters are more important to the planning process following COP26 (46%).

Councillors are significantly more likely than MPs to identify factors such as ensuring the delivery of new homes that minimise carbon emissions and encouraging sustainable transport as being important in achieving the UK’s net zero ambitions – something to be mindful of when taking developments through the planning process.

But doubts remain

Confidence in the Government’s net zero strategy remains low across the board, with 40% of MPs saying they aren’t confident about meeting the 2050 net zero commitment. Nearly half of all councillors are similarly pessimistic.

Given the efforts being made across the public and private sectors to grasp the opportunities that the green economy offers, it is disappointing that the net zero agenda seems to have slid behind other issues, notably the cost of living for decision-makers at both a national and local level.

But BECG’s Growing Divides Over Net Zero report does offer some solace about the technologies that politicians are prepared to support to help the UK meet its carbon reduction targets.

You can download a copy of the report here.

BECG is supporting renewable energy and carbon capture projects across the UK. Get in touch if you think we could help support yours.

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