Now is the time for Britain to show global leadership and move towards a low-carbon future
The public are ready for the kind of policy changes required to achieve the Government’s net zero target if they are given the information, writes Alex Stafford MP. | PA Images
The Government should welcome the recommendations of the Climate Assembly, which show the Conservative approach to protecting the environment is in line with what ordinary people want.
Last year’s election victory not only saw the Conservative win with its largest majority since 1987, but also saw us elected on one of the greenest manifestos ever put forward by any government.
Commitments like increasing off-shore wind, cutting the carbon of energy intensive industries, investment in energy efficiency for people’s homes, investing in nature through more tree planting and conservation, increasing the amount of recyclable plastics, an R&D fund for decarbonisation schemes and much more. All this will aid in achieving our target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The mandate from the British public was to “get Brexit done” then get on with everything else, and the environment was and is a key pillar of that.
This Government has prided itself on being in touch with and delivering the will of the British people in all matters of public policy. Which is why the recent report from Climate Assembly UK - the first ever UK-wide citizens’ assembly on climate change - backing recent government measures was so encouraging.
Critically, the Assembly also emphasised the importance of fairness in policies to cut carbon emissions, so that no parts of the country or sections of society are left behind and highlighted the importance of freedom of choice rather than forcing people to do things.
The Climate Assembly report...proves that this is the time for climate boosterism
It is not surprising therefore that, as Ross Clarke pointed out recently in The Spectator, “if the public is put together to thrash out their climate change policies they come to more or less the same conclusions as our democratically-elected government.”
The Climate Assembly report therefore proves that this is the time for climate boosterism from the Prime Minister and Government.
What the Assembly has shown is the public are ready for the kind of policy changes required to achieve the Government’s net zero target if they are given the information. As we look hopefully to a post-Covid economic recovery the Prime Minister has the endorsement of this report to ‘build back greener’.
In doing so we need to continue to take people with us and ensure the public understands and endorses the measures required. Things like improving the energy efficiency of our homes or buying an electric car are examples of where we need public engagement.
For example, analysis carried out by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit showed that 54% of respondents had not heard of the availability of the Government’s Green Homes Grant, but 66% of homeowners considered to have poor energy efficiency are interested in making use of it.
Having mass uptake of a scheme like the Green Homes Grant, could go a long way to decarbonise more quickly. To get that take up we need better communication and engagement, which is the responsibility of all Government, politicians and the businesses who stand to benefit from these schemes.
The Government should welcome the recommendations of the Climate Assembly.
Not only do they demonstrate that the Conservative approach to protecting the environment is in line with what ordinary people want, they also show that people are willing the Government on over climate change and looking for ministers to show the way.
As we approach next year’s UN climate summit, due to be held in the UK for the first ever time, there has never been a better time for us to again show global leadership, to stand up and be proud of our record, and to grasp the opportunities presented by moving towards a low-carbon future.
Alex Stafford is the Conservative MP for Rother Valley.