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New figures reveal Government’s net-zero challenge

Posted on 26 August 2021

New research released today (Friday, August 27) suggests the Government has a real battle on its hands if it’s to convince the general public to get behind its 2050 net-zero plans.

The results of a YouGov poll indicate that while the public are clear about the importance of protecting the planet for future generations, they are some way off understanding what part they play.

Today, there were calls for the Government to be more engaged with the public, to ensure people are properly informed and able to contribute to the major task ahead.

YouGov surveyed over 2,000 people from across Britain to gauge perceptions on a range of issues relating to sustainability generally, but specifically focussed on peoples’ homes.

The poll, commissioned by Home Group, one of the UK’s largest housing associations, found that while 80% of respondents felt environmental sustainability was important, almost half of those asked (44%) hadn’t heard of the phrase net-zero. 65% of people asked said they were oblivious to any of the Government’s net-zero targets.

For people living in social housing the disparity was even broader. 63% of people had not heard of net-zero and 69% weren’t aware of the Government’s targets.

A similar picture emerged when asked about using more sustainable forms of heating in the home, the costs of installing such types of heating, as well as the running costs.

The biggest obstacle putting people off moving from traditional heat sources like gas to new forms of heating is cost. 59% of respondents felt that alternative heat sources like solar panels, or ground and air source heating, is too expensive.

Furthermore, potentially another barrier to embracing environmental sustainability in the home, was technology. 40% of adults agreed that such technology was too complicated. 24% did not know.

There were quite wide variances when respondents were asked if they thought home energy costs would increase, decrease or stay the same with environmentally sustainable heating sources. 40% thought they would increase while 30% thought they would decrease, and 20% did not know.

Similar deviations surfaced when people were quizzed about who should pay for the technology to reduce energy usage in the home. 52% of respondents felt energy providers should cover the costs, while 40% felt Government should, via taxation. 30% felt individuals should be responsible, and 30% thought landlords should cover the costs.

Home Group’s Executive Director of Business Development, Nusheen Hussain, said: “The indications from the YouGov survey are a concern. Not only is there a lack of understanding for phrases like net-zero and the Government’s targets towards it, there’s an absence of awareness, and little agreement on, a range of important issues.

“If, as a nation, we are going to reach the Government’s ambitious targets in support of the UN’s goal to goal to stabilise the amount of human-induced greenhouse gases, then we must embrace new ways of living, starting in the home.

“But, to do that, people need to be fully aware of what that entails. They need to be able to understand the technologies, the cost implications, the support available and to enter a competitive marketplace with confidence.

“Currently, as this straw poll shows, there is quite a large information vacuum which is preventing the above.

“There must be much more public engagement and communication at a national level, if we are going to make the massive changes that are needed.”

Neal Ackcral, Hyde’s Interim Chief Executive Officer, and Chair of the Greener Futures Partnership, said: “The Greener Futures Partnership was set up to do just this: to join forces to help create an awareness for social housing customers of these issues, ranging from costs to technology, and the part they can play as individuals.

“We need to make sure our customers are listened to and that we are able to support them on the net-zero journey in their homes.”

The results of the survey come out in the same week as the Prime Minister received an open letter from Citizens Advice, Which?, Aldersgate Group and the Federation of Master Builders warning him that people will be unable to decarbonise their homes unless Government does more to support the process.

In the letter the group called on Government to provide better information and to help with the costs involved.