Survey: Two-thirds of Brits support UK’s green industrial revolution plans

The multi-billion-pound plan outlined short-term support for a range of low-carbon sectors

The survey was carried out in December 2020 by the Politics of the Environment and Climate Change (PECC) lab at Royal Holloway, University of London, with the results published today (23 February).

During the survey, participants from pools of both Conservative and Labour voters were asked for their thoughts on Boris Johnson’s Ten-Point Plan, published last November as part of both the UK’s economic recovery plans for Covid-19 and in support of its Industrial Strategy. The plan allocated a total of £12bn, spread across sectors such as offshore wind, nuclear power and hydrogen.

The survey revealed broad support for the plan, in its entirety, among both Conservative and Labour voters. Of the 3,000 people polled, 64% supported the plan and just 15% said they actively opposed it. On the flip side, 41% of people said they would oppose the Government’s approach if it had developed no new policy support in the low-carbon sectors supported by the Plan last year.

Some parts of the Plan proved more popular than others. Survey respondents, in general, showed the strongest support for tree planting, offshore wind power capacity expansion, electric public transport and grants for EV purchases by businesses and individuals. Respondents related the least to policies on the maritime and aviation sectors.

“Ultimately, the overall picture is not substantively different when considering individuals’ political affiliations,” the survey results paper states.

“The most popular policy program amongst the general public sees support from a majority of both Conservative and Labour supporters. Therefore, a particularly ambitious version of the Green Industrial Revolution sees high levels of support across party lines within the UK.”

Communicating amid Covid-19

Back at the last general election in December 2019, climate was a major sticking point. While all major parties had come out in support of the net-zero transition, plans about how fast the transition should be and the means by which it should be delivered were varied.

The Conservative Party has repeatedly used green policy announcements as a means to garner support and engage existing voters, during and since that election. Its election manifesto detailed commitments to stop exporting plastic waste to poor nations and to scale-up the UK’s recycling, EV and sustainable farming sectors after Brexit.

 But Covid-19, of course, presented challenges for communicating and implementing these and related strategies.

When Johnson first touted the UK’s ‘New Deal’ recovery package in June 2020, many green groups said there was nothing “new” about it and encouraged more support for low-carbon sectors.

Then, when the Ten Point Plan was floated on Twitter, many Conservative voters said they did not support the framework and that Johnson should prioritise the immediate crisis over the UK’s long-term climate goals.

The new survey suggests that these Twitter users are either part of a vocal minority, or that public mood has shifted since November.

Similarly, research from Climate Outreach last year found that there is broad support for the low-carbon transition among all social demographics in the UK. Disagreements arise, instead, the ‘Britain Talks Climate’ study revealed, around how the transition should be delivered. Climate Outreach polled 10,000 British adults for its research, before hosting 12 focus groups and 35 in-depth interviews.

Hear from BEIS’s head of industry and carbon capture at edie’s next Masterclass 

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) head of industry and carbon capture and storage has been confirmed as a speaker for edie’s next online masterclass, taking place on 10 March.

The 45-minute masterclass is free to watch and will explore the role that energy efficiency will play on the road to net-zero for industrial business. It is being hosted in association with Carbon Trust and BEIS, also featuring an expert speaker from BAM Nuttall. Find out more and register here. 

Sarah George

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie