- Support for strong leadership from government and business to enable people to make sustainable decisions
- Public supportive of measures conventionally deemed more controversial
LONDON, 25 January 2023 – New research from the Behavioural Insights Team published today finds broad and deep support from the UK public for a wide range of specific policy recommendations to enable them to make sustainable choices and help play their part in reaching Net Zero.
Key findings from this new research include:
- 88% of people in the UK would like to make more sustainable choices if they could
- 88% feel it’s too hard to make sustainable choices because of high costs, inconvenience, limited knowledge or other barriers
- 86% wish leadership on the environment (from government and businesses) was stronger
- 86% would like government and businesses to do more to help make more sustainable choices
These and other findings are published today in BIT’s new landmark report, How to build a Net Zero society which is available to download at: https://www.bi.team/publication/how-to-build-a-net-zero-society
The report builds on years of research and dozens of BIT case studies to analyse the barriers and enablers to greener choices across domestic heat and power, transport, food, and material consumption. It presents over 20 concrete policy recommendations, and dozens of ideas for businesses through a holistic, system-wide view, addressing the role of communications to inform consumer choice, but also upstream changes which radically alter the consumers’ choice environment at scale, to make green choices easy, affordable and the default choice.
A common thread throughout is how the public are consistently supportive of the suggestions proposed – even on issues typically viewed as more contentious. People are much more ready and willing to make sustainable changes than the current political narrative suggests, and policymakers should move to pass climate legislation that better reflects these public attitudes.
Toby Park, BIT’s Head of Energy, Environment & Sustainability and the report’s lead author said: “Delivering Net Zero is not only a moral and legal obligation in the UK, but this week the Government’s own review reaffirmed that it’s the biggest growth opportunity of the 21st century. Our new research now shows that it is also backed by huge public demand. Our data clearly show that people want to live more sustainably, but we also know that many people face a wide range of convenience, cost, knowledge or accessibility barriers to some of the bigger changes ahead of us: driving electric, switching to a heat pump, making our homes more energy efficient, cycling and walking more, or adjusting our diets. That’s why people want strong leadership from government and business to make it much easier to be green.
“In practice that means we need sound and purposeful public engagement and eco-labelling to enable consumers to make the greener choices they want, but in parallel we need big changes in policy and business practice to make those green choices cheap, easy, attractive, normal and the default option for everyone. That requires new, smarter forms of market regulation, infrastructure development, pricing, and much more. What this research shows, critically, is that there is a pathway to success. Based on the latest behavioural science and new public polling, we present a host of solutions which can both be effective, and benefit from broad public support.”