7 november 2019

Majority of UK public back 2030 zero-carbon target – poll

Nearly half of Tory voters back plan, compared with 16% who back party’s 2050 target

Matthew Taylor, The Guardian, Thu 7 Nov 2019

A majority of the UK public and almost half of Conservative voters support a radical plan to transform the economy and tackle the climate crisis, a poll suggests.

YouGov found that 56% of people back the total decarbonisation of the UK economy by 2030 and just under half support public spending to make large swathes of public transport free to use.

The findings appear to highlight a growing awareness of the scale of the climate crisis and the increasingly radical policy solutions the public is willing to support.

Last week a separate survey found that the climate emergency would influence how most people vote, with almost two-thirds agreeing it was the biggest issue facing humankind.

The new poll, commissioned by Green New Deal UK, a non-party-aligned campaign group, found that 47% of Conservative voters back a zero-emissions target by 2030, compared with just 16% who support the government’s current aim of reaching that point by 2050.

Labour wants the UK to hit zero carbon by 2030 as part of its Green Industrial Revolution agenda, the Green party also has a target date of 2030, and the Liberal Democrats have set a target of 2045.

Aliya Yule, a co-founder of Labour for a Green New Deal, which campaigned for Labour to adopt the 2030 target, said the polling showed next month’s vote was becoming the UK’s first “climate election”.

“The figures demonstrate the huge public appetite for rapid and radical government action on climate change,” he said.

Yule said only Labour’s Green Industrial Revolution plans – which aim to tie radical action on the environment to huge job creation and housing upgrade schemes – would address the scale of the crisis.

“Not even Conservative voters support the Tories’ net zero 2050 target. They have no credibility on climate change, not even with their own supporters,” he added.

“A target date of 2030 has been Green party policy for years,” said a Green party spokesperson. “The fact that the majority of people now support it shows how much concern about the climate emergency is accelerating, and how little support there is for the government’s policy of setting targets for mid-century and using that as an excuse to take very little action to achieve them.”

This week student and pensioner groups called on the leaders of all the main parties to take part in a televised leaders’ debate on the climate. All agreed except for Boris Johnson, who did not respond.

Noga Levy-Rapoport, a participant in the youth climate strikes, said: “This general election is our last chance to face up to the climate crisis. The public clearly support the most ambitious targets to decarbonise.

“Parties should respond in kind by offering a Green New Deal which rapidly reduces emissions while improving living standards and expanding services like free bus travel.”

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