75% of Brits don’t trust Government and businesses to deliver just transition to net-zero

A survey of more than 8,000 adults in the UK has revealed that just 25% believe that the social benefits of the transition to a more sustainable economy will be shared equally, evidencing a gap between talk and action on the just transition from policy and the private sector.

75% of Brits don’t trust Government and businesses to deliver just transition to net-zero

The survey, commissioned by Business in the Community (BITC) and conducted by YouGov, was carried out last September and the results were released in a new report this week. In total, 8,026 members of the general public and 2,007 decision-makers at businesses were polled.

Among the business decision-makers, 40% were confident that the social benefits of the transition to a net-zero economy and the aversion of the biodiversity crisis will be shared equally. But this proportion falls to 25% among the general public.

When asked about who will bear the brunt of the negative impacts, including costs, only 28% of business leaders were confident that these would be shared fairly. This proportion falls to 14% among the general public. Worryingly, 40% of the general public said they think the negative impact of reaching net-zero would be more harmful than the negative impact of climate change.

BITC has stated that this evidences that “there is much work to be done to demonstrate that a fair and inclusive transition is possible”.

One of the major barriers to the delivery of a strong just transition narrative detailed in the BITC report is public distrust in corporate claims. Almost two-thirds (62%) of the survey respondents said they do not trust businesses to do what they promise on climate.

The report notably comes shortly after the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced its first sector-wide review of environmental claims, targeted at fashion. Businesses will be assessed on whether their claims meet the Green Claims Code requirements and, if they fall foul, will be subject to punishments including fines.

“Businesses must act to rebuild trust, communicating openly and transparently with employees, customers and communities about what they’re doing, and the risks and opportunities involved,” the report states.  “With trust in business to act on climate dangerously low, it is up to business leaders to show rather than tell how they are acting to address the climate crisis.”

The BITC report also outlines how the general public are not engaged with the realities of the upskilling and reskilling opportunities presented by the net-zero transition – perhaps because businesses and policymakers are not delivering and promoting strong plans.

89% of respondents believe they will be able to continue doing their current job without developing “at least a fair amount” of new skills. Additionally, 76% said they do not properly understand how businesses, in general, are responding to the climate crisis.

Last week, the UK Government shelved several recommendations put forward by MPs to support the UK’s ambition to host two million green jobs by 2030 – an aim it is not currently on track to achieve.

join the just transition conversation at edie’s Sustainability Leaders Forum 

edie’s biggest event of the year is returning as a live, in-person event for 2022. The dates have been moved from early February to March, to ensure collaboration and celebration can take place in person. 

The Sustainability Leaders Forum will now take place on 8 and 9 March 2022, and will unite hundreds of professionals for inspiring keynotes, dynamic panel discussions, interactive workshops and facilitated networking. There will also be digital tickets.

Taking place at London’s Business Design Centre, the event will feature more than 60 speakers, including experts from Natural England, the Green Finance Institute, the World Economic Forum and the Centre for Climate Repair. We’re planning our most diverse and inspirational programme yet.

Click here for full information and to book your pass.

At 1.30pm on 9 March, we will be hosting a workshop on driving social equality and achieving a just transition. Expert speakers from the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA), A Blueprint for Better Business, Nesta, The Very Group and Ombudsman Services have been confirmed for this session. 

Sarah George

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