New poll shows British voters want a government that cares about the environment - of course they do!

| 26th May 2017
If politicians want to back ‘the will of the people’, they must now, after these results, back the Paris Agreement and the Climate Change Act, because a substantial majority of Britons support both
UK politicians (aside from the Green Party) may not have the environment high on the agenda but the British public want to remain part of the Paris Agreement and care deeply about climate change according to a new poll released today. JOE WARE reports
The polls clearly show that concern for the environment and the transition to a low carbon economy is now mainstream - and rightly viewed as just plain common sense

As the leaders of the G7 meet in Italy this weekend and Donald Trump tries to work out whether he's going to pull his country out of the Paris Agreement or not, the latest new polling shows that the British public are firmly behind two vital pieces of climate change legislation.

Polling by YouGov, published today, (26th May, 2017) reveals that two thirds (66 per cent) of Brits say that the UK should remain part of the Paris Agreement and even more, 69 per cent, want Parliament to retain the UK's Climate Change Act - a pioneering piece of law-making which when it was passed in 2008 set the bar for others to follow.

This comes hot on the heels of research conducted by the think tank Bright Blue, which found that Conservative voters were in favour of strengthening or maintaining a number of EU standards on the environment post-Brexit.

Eighty-five per cent of Tory voters were in favour of renewable energy generation targets, 92 per cent wanted the targets on air pollution to be kept or increased while 93 per cent wanted protections for habitats and wildlife to be preserved.

The polls clearly show that concern for the environment and the transition to a low carbon economy is now mainstream and rightly viewed as plain common sense.  Why wouldn't we want more home grown, clean, renewable energy when it is now becoming cheaper than fossil fuels and when it is also a source of well paying, future-proof, high tech, jobs.

Richard Black, Director of the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit who commissioned today's research says: "In the post-EU referendum context we're hearing a lot about the ‘will of the people' for Brexit - but interestingly, some of the individuals ploughing that furrow most strongly are also those calling for Britain to pull out of the Paris Agreement and scrap the Climate Change Act.

"But if you back ‘the will of the people', you must now, after these results, back the Paris Agreement and the Climate Change Act, because a substantial majority of Britons support both.

"Climate change is going to be centre-stage for the G7 summit this weekend, and one presumes that the Prime Minister will, when she discusses it with President Trump, be highlighting the recently-expressed will of both the British and American peoples to see climate change brought under control."

The wobbles from the White House over America's approach to climate change is actually forcing other nations to step into the leadership void left by President Obama. Just this week Canada's environment minister met with China's climate envoy and the EU's climate and energy commissioner to discuss how to maintain the momentum generated by the Paris Agreement.  

The irony is that Trump has spoken as if pulling out of the Paris Agreement would give his country some kind of advantage when actually the opposite is true. There are local environmental benefits from a cleaner energy system such as reduced air pollution and fewer leaky oil pipelines snaking across America's beautiful natural landscape. 

That energy supply will also be secure, being homegrown, and cheap. The US has an abundance of solar and wind, something a number of Republican-controlled states and cities have already began to capitalise on - were it its own country Texas would be the world's sixth largest producer of wind power.  

Should the US pull out it will also face a diplomatic backlash and global isolation as other nations express their disgust at Trump endangering the world's shared biosphere.  For the self-styled ‘deal maker' it will be much harder for him to get things done internationally if he tries to sabotage the climate efforts of the rest of the world.

Ultimately, climate legislation helps to drive innovation and business, pushing technological breakthroughs and helping to boost the growth of green jobs. Part of the reason for the UK's prominent clean tech sector is thanks to the Climate Change Act, which gave business and investors the signs they needed to invest. 

It's no wonder the British public backs it.  And further such signals from Government would no doubt be highly popular with the public from whoever wins the UK General Election on June 8.  

This Author

Joe Ware is a journalist and writer at Christian Aid and a New Voices contributor for the Ecologist. Follow him at @wareisjoe



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