United Kingdom

Market Fact

Main issue:​​​​​​​ There is a need for greater public engagement in climate policies in the UK, particularly in the context of recent government decisions to water down green measures.

Location: United Kingdom

Main facts & key stats/data:

There is a need for public engagement in climate policies in the UK, especially in light of recent policy changes, although there have been efforts to involve the public in discussions about achieving net-zero emissions and sustainability goals:

  1. Reduced Green Measures: UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's decision to scale back key green measures ahead of the general election has raised concerns among experts. They worry that without informed and engaged public support, climate policies could face backlash and result in costly adjustments.

  2. UPPER Coalition Report: A report by the UPPER coalition, comprising environmental organizations, calls for the UK government to establish a public engagement strategy. It suggests that this strategy should be led by the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero and prioritized alongside policy development and regulation.

  3. Policy Changes by PM Sunak: Sunak announced several policy changes, including delaying the ban on new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 to 2035 and postponing the target for eliminating gas boilers. He also ruled out certain proposed measures, such as taxes on flying and meat consumption, carpooling incentives, and recycling schemes.

  4. Importance of Public Engagement: The UPPER coalition emphasizes the importance of engaging the public in discussions about how net-zero policies can create jobs, boost the economy, and promote inclusivity. It suggests that working with communities to address concerns is vital for a just and fair transition.

  5. Division on Climate Policies: While one in four Britons considers the environment important, there is increasing division among the population and political parties regarding the necessary policy and behavioral changes for achieving net-zero emissions. Disagreements exist on issues like Ultra Low Emissions Zones and alternative heating methods.

  6. National Strategy and Local Delivery: The report calls for a national strategy with a regional and local delivery model. It recommends sector-specific strategies and the establishment of a working group to measure the impact of public engagement.

  7. Co-Designing Climate Projects: The coalition emphasizes the need for climate projects to be co-designed with a diverse range of people, particularly when addressing behavior changes related to travel, heating, and diet. The availability of private and public resources also plays a crucial role in enabling change.

  8. Nesta's Strategy Room Pilot: Nesta, an innovation charity, conducted a pilot project called the Strategy Room, which used immersive scenarios to engage participants in discussions about local carbon-reducing policies related to heating, travel, and food. Participants showed more positive attitudes toward net-zero policies compared to an online poll.

  9. Local Variation in Policy Preferences: The pilot revealed that policy preferences varied between areas, highlighting the importance of local engagement and understanding community needs and preferences.

  10. Citizen Participation Service: Nesta calls for the creation of a Citizen Participation Service within the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero to engage the public in climate policymaking, build community connections, and address potential backlash against net-zero policies.

Original link / Source of Information / Date of Update:

https://cities-today.com/climate-groups-call-for-better-public-engagement-to-prevent-uk-backlash/, Cities Today, 26 September 2023