Fri. Jul 12th, 2024

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The net zero climate target remains popular with the public and with Conservative voters, according to a new poll published after Rishi Sunak backtracked on some green measures.

The survey, published by right-leaning thinktank Onward, found 49% of those polled who voted Conservative in 2019 backed net zero, compared to the 20% who opposed it.

Among the general public, the proportion in favour of the climate target rose to 56%.

“Both the general public and Conservative voters remain very positive about net zero, even despite some of the post-Uxbridge debates,” said Adam Hawksbee, deputy director of Onward.

Last week the PM delivered a speech delaying key climate targets on boilers and electric vehicles, saying he wanted to ease the burden on households, and this week welcomed the contentious new Rosebank oilfield in the North Sea.

He is seeking to retain support from net zero-sceptic Tories and draw a dividing line with Labour over green policies, after the Uxbridge by-election sparked a debate on an air quality scheme.

But the backing for net zero in the survey may be welcomed by the PM, who, amid some U-turns, stood firm on the UK’s legally-binding target to meet net zero by 2050.

Net zero means cutting emissions as much as possible and offsetting those remaining.

The survey of 4,000 adults – carried out by Public First and published in Onward’s Hotting Up report – found that the Tory voters ranked climate change as the fifth most important issue facing the UK, and the most serious global challenge.

The poll was representative of UK adults and was carried out online between 8 and 15 August.

The research, which included work with eight focus groups, suggested proposed bans on gas boilers and the hurried installation of heat pumps had not been well understood by voters.

It said they were also concerned about moving too fast without the right financial support.

But Tory voters were actually “far less worried” about the cost of climate measures than some other policy areas, like housing or education, said Mr Hawksbee.

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Government set ‘unrealistic target’

And more blamed the war in Ukraine, the COVID pandemic or Liz Truss for high living costs than blamed net zero.

He added: “The risk is that the specific things that the government changed in that speech are wrapped up in a broader scepticism of net zero and a continued shift away from climate commitments.

“But they should not go further and in fact, quite the opposite. What they not need to do is deliver on big, bold policies to help consumers.”

Watch The Climate Show with Tom Heap on Saturday and Sunday at 3pm and 7.30pm on Sky News, on the Sky News website and app, and on YouTube and Twitter.

The show investigates how global warming is changing our landscape and highlights solutions to the crisis.

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