Seven in 10 lack confidence that UK will meet climate change targets

Britain's government has pledged to cut emissions by 78 per cent by 2035

A cat crosses the road on a housing development in the shadow of Drax Power station, near Selby in north Yorkshire, U.K., Tuesday, March 13, 2007.
Photographer: Graham Barclay/Bloomberg News

Nearly seven in 10 British adults are not confident that the UK government will hit its target to cut emissions by 78 per cent by 2035, research shows.

Polling by YouGov, commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature, also found that 77 per cent believe the government should help fund changes to homes to make them more environmentally friendly.

Analysis from the WWF shows that only a minuscule amount of the 2021 Budget, about 0.01 per cent of gross domestic product, is being put towards climate change mitigation.

That is despite the UK government portraying itself as a key driver in tackling global warming and its effects. As president of the G7, the UK has put climate change at the heart of its agenda, and Glasgow will host the UN’s Cop26 climate conference in November.

The polling comes after the release earlier this week of a devastating report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said the global temperature rise compared to pre-industrial levels is set to exceed 1.5°C in the 2030s.

“With nature in free fall and the climate in crisis, the clock is ticking for the planet, as the latest IPCC reports makes clear. It’s not yet too late to prevent global warming from rising above 1.5°C — it is in our hands. But to do that, the UK government must play its part by keeping every climate promise it has made,” said Isabella O’Dowd, head of climate change at WWF.

“The latest Budget simply doesn’t add up to the cleaner, greener future we all want to see. To turn things around, ministers must close the gap between their climate commitments and their spending plans, by adopting a Net Zero Test for all government spending ahead of the UK-hosted Cop26 climate summit in November.

“We won’t forget the government’s climate promises and, together with our supporters, we will hold government to account for delivering on them.”

The WWF said climate mitigation policies from the March 2021 Budget amounted to £145 million ($201m), “while policies that will drive up emissions — like the fuel duty freeze — equate to over £40 billion”.

“The net zero transition should be seen as an investment, not a cost. Making the right spending choices today to tackle the climate crisis will not only reduce costs in the future, but also unlock benefits for the UK economy,” Ms O’Dowd said.

“To ensure all households enjoy those benefits — from healthier homes to lower energy bills — the government must invest now, making good on its climate promises while ensuring no one is left behind in the transition to net zero.”

Updated: August 12th 2021, 11:50 AM