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Overwhelming majority of Tory voters reject Net Zero policies

Does the public really want Net Zero? Credit: Getty

September 20, 2023 - 11:54am

News today is dominated by the intention by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to delay the introduction of key green policies. But a glance at the most recent polling on the issue raises the question: what took him so long?

The latest YouGov polling from last month shows that an overwhelming majority of 2019 Conservative voters — the coalition that Sunak must hope to retain to keep his majority — are opposed to the specific policies that are being “watered down”.

According to the Prime Minister’s plans, which were leaked to the BBC, a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, slated for 2030, will now not come into force until 2035, bringing Britain into line with the European Union’s plans. An edict banning new gas boilers will similarly be delayed.

Conservative voters will be happy about this. Although the ban on the sale of new cars by 2030 was once hailed by the Government as a “historic step towards net zero”, YouGov found that 76% of those who voted Conservative in 2019 are opposed to it.

The Government’s “ambition to phase out all new and replacement natural gas boilers by 2035” is opposed by 59% of those who elected the Government, with 29% in support.

The BBC also reports that policies deterring flying, eating, lax recycling and driving will not be introduced. This is likely to receive an enthusiastic response from those who voted the Government into office four years ago. 86% of them oppose the introduction of new taxes on gas bills and 51% are against increasing taxes on long haul flights.

Among those who voted for the Conservatives in 2019, a solid 61% support the Government’s longer term target of reducing Britain’s carbon emissions to Net Zero by 2050. This was a manifesto commitment, included in Boris Johnson’s guarantee to the country. Only 32% of those who voted for the Conservatives oppose this plank of their platform.

Conservative voters favour some specific Net Zero policies. They support constructing more onshore wind farms by 75% to 19% and building new nuclear power stations by 63% to 23%. 

A backlash is beginning to the news of the back-pedalling, but the signs are that the 2019 voting coalition will be pleased.

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Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago

It says something about the massive propaganda effort we have endured for two decades that anyone supports net zero. These policies will cause infinitely more damage than the problems they are meant to solve.

Robbie K
Robbie K
9 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Sorry to disappoint you, but most people do support net zero, what they don’t support is these policies in their current form.
Rolling back these policies however is going to cause absolute chaos with the industries involved.
Rather than delaying they should be implementing an extra push of effort and investment to make it happen.
Sunak is about to make his biggest mistake.

Chris Carter
Chris Carter
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

You mean those industries will actually have to compete in a free market rather than rely on a ruinous (for the consumer) combination of subsidies and mandates?
Oh the humanity!!

Robbie K
Robbie K
9 months ago
Reply to  Chris Carter

The motor industry in particular has to have very long term planning in place for production, but that also applies to companies who have budgeted for electric vehicles. This applies to all of the other industries gearing up for the changes who will now have the carpet pulled from beneath them.
It’s an absolute clusterfck.

Last edited 9 months ago by Robbie K
Chris Carter
Chris Carter
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Tough.
And how is a mere 5 year postponement a clusterfuck?

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

The motor industry has a very small customer – the UK. Europe already put everything back to 2035.
I bet you were one of the first to waste your money on a battery car. The resale values will tell you about the motor industry.

Adam Bacon
Adam Bacon
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Great! EV’s with existing current batteries are a technological catastrophe. The sooner the rug is pulled beneath them the better..

Nikki Hayes
Nikki Hayes
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

The original target for vehicles was already 7 years away. There is plenty of time for companies to adjust to the new deadline of 2035. This brings us into line withe the EU, Japan and a number of other countries. Its a sensible decision from Sunak, for once.

Robbie K
Robbie K
9 months ago
Reply to  Nikki Hayes

Vehicle manufacturers will still have to meet big targets set for selling electric vehicles or face fines, so moving the deadline has completely undermined them.

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

You really have no idea. What policies will everyone agree to? Let’s all go vegan? Why not stay at home, get rid of the car and never go out?
First wrong policy – wind power. Too expensive to maintain.
Second wrong policy – putting the wind turbines in the sea. Even more expensive to maintain. Somewhere on land the electricity has to meet the Grid. Nobody wants pylons in their backyard.
Third wrong policy – battery driven cars based on Lithium. This is temporary only until the real technology is made available.

It was wrong for the government to sign an agreement without a referendum – thereby telling everybody what to expect. Sure, people support NetZero but they don’t know what it means for them personally.
Neither do you. You don’t care. You have said before that you don’t want children. What about those who do? They have to think about life for their children and grandchildren. Your self-congratulatory attitude is just selfish.

Last edited 9 months ago by Caradog Wiliams
Robbie K
Robbie K
9 months ago

If you’ve been taking so much notice of my posts you might have observed that I have always advocated nuclear energy as the best option, supported by renewables.

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

I read all the posts – which relate in some way to Europe and the UK. I know that you advocated nuclear energy, as did most thinking people.
The problem is that these changes will affect everybody, especially those who live outside Greater London, where facilities are relatively poor. Everybody has to know what to expect individually. Realistically, people can’t afford battery-powered cars, the cars barely save any carbon as Mazda advised about 5 years ago – if you consider everything in the manufacture and scrapping.
So you have to say things like, “We are trying to remove 50% of the cars.” Who will have a car and who won’t? What will it mean on an individual level? “You will have to accept pylons.” “We plan to go vegan in 15 years and this is what we’ll do.” By treating the public as dummies they will run into insoluble problems.
The politicians are not capable of understanding these things. They have ‘experts’ and we saw plenty of them during Covid. The various countries are fighting each other to get the industries which might or might not produce jobs. The whole thing is a mess.
Just out of interest, the USA have thousands of wind turbines and solar panels in their western deserts but nobody will allow the pylons to join them to the Grid. At least they won’t deteriorate quickly in a desert.

Adam Bacon
Adam Bacon
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Oh good, you’re not completely insane

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

EV’s are still a terrible technology – even with green electricity. It is beyond me why otherwise intelligent people think they are some kind of panacea.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

They support net zero – until you’re honest about the horrific costs associated with it. This has been demonstrated repeatedly in polls. I even support net zero if it means a massive rollout of nuclear, but of course absolutely no one is championing this, except maybe Sweden.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Net zero is as unattainable as every other Great Leap Forward – and probably even more deadly for millions of people.

Roddy Campbell
Roddy Campbell
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

When you say ‘most people support Net Zero’ you actually mean ‘most people support the redacted, sanitised, consequence-free version of Net Zero that the politicians and BBC have been lying about for the last few years. And that most people are scared by the cynical manipulation of science, media and powerful vested interests that has sold the public a partisan, hyperbolic and apocalyptic vision of the future without Net Zero. And that most people haven’t been told that if Britain were to cease existing tomorrow, British Net Zero would have NO impact on the climate.
The more detail, the less Net Zero.

james elliott
james elliott
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

No, very few people support net zero.

Where do you stand on Communist China – the world’s biggest polluter – totally ignoring net zero.

What penalty ought the CCP face?

Tom Graham
Tom Graham
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Most people certainly not support the idea that only rich people should be able to afford to own cars or heat their houses in winter.

Christian Moon
Christian Moon
9 months ago

‘Supporting’ something means nothing without a price.
The only price being discussed is ‘cheaper’, but that ain’t true.
As soon as people learn the real costs they just look at the governing class like they’ve all lost their minds.

Lukasz Gregorczyk
Lukasz Gregorczyk
9 months ago

The way beeb announced Sunak’s change of direction this morning on the radio was telling! The newsreader said that the PM and the Government are watering down their climate commitments unequivocally portraying the event in a negative light. No mention was made of support this would garner among significant numbers of voters fed up with the net zero, ULEZ, LTN and the climate scaremongering.

Last edited 9 months ago by Lukasz Gregorczyk
Brian Hunt
Brian Hunt
9 months ago

Now’s the time for the government to get behind Rolls-Royce SMRs. Developing those would create UK jobs and export opportunities.

Stephen Follows
Stephen Follows
9 months ago

And then there’s fracking…
Please God, Sunak, hold your nerve!

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
9 months ago

Fracking means pumping a light gas like methane from underground stores to the surface when required. It causes incredibly dangerous earthquakes and must be banned at once.
Instead, we could store hydrogen in underground salt caverns and then pump it to the surface when required. This is a step to cleaner energy and totally different from fracking.
‘Underground storage is a proven way to store a huge amount of energy (electricity) after converting it into hydrogen as it has higher energy content per unit mass than other gases such as methane and natural gas. ‘

Last edited 9 months ago by Steven Carr
James Kirk
James Kirk
9 months ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

Not true. The seismic effect is of a bus driving past your house. They’ve measured it.

Chris Carter
Chris Carter
9 months ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

Fracking has taken the US from a net importer to a net exporter of energy.
Where are the “incredibly dangerous earthquakes”?

Last edited 9 months ago by Chris Carter
Steven Carr
Steven Carr
9 months ago
Reply to  Chris Carter

They are the ones you get when pumping out methane, which somehow never happen when pumping out hydrogen….

Adam Bacon
Adam Bacon
9 months ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

Minor earthquakes from fracking incredibly dangerous??
But storing huge amounts of hydrogen underground…what could possibly go wrong?

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
9 months ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

No-one had to pay a dime to put the shale gas underground. Whereas the cost of creating all that hydrogen is enormous.
Here are some facts from a distinguished physicist with no axe to grind:
https://youtu.be/Zklo4Z1SqkE?feature=shared

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
9 months ago

Sabine makes good videos.

Benjamin Jones
Benjamin Jones
9 months ago

‘Should not come as a surprise’ but it seems it has, so out of touch are the ‘elite’.

Mark Goodhand
Mark Goodhand
9 months ago

“Conservative voters favour some specific Net Zero policies. They support constructing more onshore wind farms by 75% to 19%”
Assuming polls can be trusted at all, ongoing support for wind farms suggests widespread ignorance.
Democracy doesn’t work when the demos can be so easily misled.

N Satori
N Satori
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

On the question of trusting polls on this subject I will repeat a comment I posted back in March:

I’d really like to see a study of how opinion pollsters choose their respondents. An article by Rachel Connor (The sham of those ‘pro-windfarm’ polls, TCW, April 2022) in which she systematically debunked a poll that showed 70% public support for Scottish windfarms, left me with serious doubts about the methods used by pollsters. Polls and surveys have become an important tool to influence as much as gauge public opinion. 

James Kirk
James Kirk
9 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

Pollsters phrase questions like ‘should all wind generators be pulled down?’ With the answer ‘No’ it becomes ‘they want more.’

N Satori
N Satori
9 months ago
Reply to  James Kirk

In the case I mentioned above YouGov included only 119 Scots in a sample of 1,700 respondents who were asked if they approved of Scottish onshore windfarms. 192 of the respondents actually lived in London!
Other “methods” included failure to mention such details as how many turbines a windfarm would consist of or how high the turbines would be.

Mustard Clementine
Mustard Clementine
9 months ago

I am not a conservative, but I am a designer who much prefers innovation looking to improve people’s everyday lives, rather than making them progressively more miserable. So long as this marks a shift in how we approach climate change — not a shift away from dealing with it at all — I can see this as a positive. I do think we need to prioritize more radical changes to how we live, in order to be more sustainable — but I would rather these take a hopeful, positive, forward-looking tack, than punitive policies. Negativity and regressive quality of life aren’t my idea of progress.

Noel Chiappa
Noel Chiappa
9 months ago

What the author is ignoring is that although 60-70% of Conservative voters oppose these things, the vast majority of non-Conservative voters back them. So when control of Westminster turns over (inevitable), they’ll be back on the table.
The climate change religious delusion won’t fade until the country is in ruins – if then.

Tom Graham
Tom Graham
9 months ago
Reply to  Noel Chiappa

The vast majority of non-conservative voters do not support only the rich being able to own cars or heat their houses.
Maybe the vast majority of Lib-Dems do, but they are a tiny minority best ignored.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
9 months ago

Far too little far to late. It’s not just about net zero, that’s one small thing off a laundry list. Atonement will have to be much, much, bigger if they genuinely want to win. For a start, they would need to cross our palms with silver. Large amounts of silver. Then, consider that the sins of the fathers are visited upon the children, as long as the fathers are still present. So a good place to start, would be for the entire Tory upper echelon, including everyone in a government post, and anyone in the Lords, and anyone involved in government in the past 13 years, regardless of if they have retired, to commit ritual and public hari-kari. Replace them all with new team, decided by everyone who voted Tory in 2019. This is the price. You know what you have to do.

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
9 months ago

“Among those who voted for the Conservatives in 2019, a solid 61% support the Government’s longer term target of reducing Britain’s carbon emissions to Net Zero by 2050. ”
Yes, because they will most likely be dead…

Tony Reardon
Tony Reardon
9 months ago

As is so often the case “Yes Minister/Yes Prime Minister” addressed the issue of polling:-

I was somewhat naif in those days. I did not understand how the voters could be both for it and against it. Dear old Humphrey showed me how it’s done. The secret is that when the Man In The Street is approached by a nice attractive young lady with a clipboard he is asked a series of questions. Naturally the Man In The Street wants to make a good impression and doesn’t want to make a fool of himself. So the market researcher asks questions designed to elicit consistent answers. Humphrey demonstrated the system on me.

‘Mr Woolley, are you worried about the rise in crime among teenagers?’

‘Yes,’ I said.

‘Do you think there is a lack of discipline and vigorous training in our Comprehensive Schools?’

‘Yes.’

‘Do you think young people welcome some structure and leadership in their lives?’

‘Yes.’

‘Do they respond to a challenge?’

‘Yes.’

‘Might you be in favour of reintroducing National Service?’

‘Yes.’

Well, naturally I said yes. One could hardly have said anything else without looking inconsistent. Then what happens is that the Opinion Poll publishes only the last question and answer.

Humphrey suggested that we commission a new survey, not for the Party but for the Ministry of Defence. We did so. He invented the questions there and then:

‘Mr Woolley, are you worried about the danger of war?’

‘Yes,’ I said, quite honestly.

‘Are you unhappy about the growth of armaments?’

‘Yes.’

‘Do you think there’s a danger in giving young people guns and teaching them how to kill?’

‘Yes.’

‘Do you think it wrong to force people to take up arms against their will?’

‘Yes.’

‘Would you oppose the reintroduction of National Service?’

I’d said ‘Yes’ before I’d even realised it, d’you see?

Humphrey was crowing with delight. ‘You see, Bernard,’ he said to me, ‘you’re the perfect Balanced Sample.’

Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
9 months ago

Its odd how bringing the UK into line with the later date in Europe for banning petrol cars causes such fury in the motor industry (or at least Ford according to the press).
The Motor industry was faced with having to meet two different targets – inherently difficult for them.
And we are lead to believe it is the German motor manufacturers that are trying to further dilute the EU deadline.
Crocodile tears from Ford et al.

Roddy Campbell
Roddy Campbell
9 months ago

Which public servant leaked this to the BBC?
Jail please.

j watson
j watson
9 months ago

Ha, Conservative Voters also supported Bojo and Mad Liz, and where did those brainwaves get us? (I shan’t mention Brexit too, oops too late)
Sunak hitting the ‘panic’ button in desperation to create a culture war on Green/Climate issues just the latest attempt to distract away from collapsing schools, hospitals, immigration policy highest inflation amongst G7 and an on-going cost of living crisis.
Putting aside the utter nonsense about how he’s scrapping rules that never existed (e.g compulsory car sharing) so the Golf Club bores can have a proper rant-on, the question is whether medium term it does actually save folks much and what it does for business confidence and those UK companies hoping to become world leaders. The indications are not good albeit we’ll hear more over the next few weeks.
Were he serious we might have heard something about Nuclear.
Pure electoral calculus, and it’s just another example of of why we are in such a muddle after the last 14years. Weak.

Mark Cook
Mark Cook
9 months ago

I don’t understand this obsession with banning Gas boilers. They should be converted to run hydrogen, as all the distribution infrastructure is there already. It just takes time to move from converting natural gas via Steam methane reforming (SMR) to using water via electrolysis.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark Cook

Unlike natural gas, the hydrogen would have to be produced by electricity first. So doing that, and then pumping the hydrogen into what would have to be a massively upgraded gas network to heat homes seems very inefficient, rather than just installing electric heat pumps directly? The grim reality is there no cheap path to Net Zero for those countries foolhardy enough to commit to it.

Mark Cook
Mark Cook
9 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

And unlike electricity presently, it can be generated and stored for use when required. The upgrade to plastic pipes in the network are already well underway.

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark Cook

Where will liquid hydrogen be stored?

Paul T
Paul T
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark Cook

Liquid Hydrogen is a cryogenic fuel. This means that its production, storage and transmission are very expensive in energy terms. Storing it is pointless as it would cost more to store and transmit it eventually than the energy obtainable from it. It’s also highly explosive in either form.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark Cook

There are pilot schemes trying this (no pun intended) but as Stephen Walsh points out, there are many additional complications with producing and storing hydrogen.

Noel Chiappa
Noel Chiappa
9 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

I can’t wait for the first explosion caused by leaking (small molecule) hydrogen.

Mark Goodhand
Mark Goodhand
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark Cook

I don’t understand the obsession either.
If we’re to give up fossil fuels, gas should be the last to go.
Gas boilers are cheaper and more effective than electric alternatives, and gas is relatively clean to burn.
If we get to the point where we have more nuclear power than we know what to do with, we can consider the relative merits of hydrogen vs electric heating.
To my mind, hydrogen makes most sense when you want to run for extended periods away from the grid: cars, trucks, construction and mining vehicles. Maybe fuel cells. Maybe diesel-hydrogen hybrids.

jim peden
jim peden
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark Cook

As others below have pointed out, it isn’t as simple as we have been led to believe. Hydrogen is a much smaller molecule than Methane and so is much more apt to diffuse through existing natural gas pipes.
Given the growing uncertainties surrounding the true causes of ‘climate change’ and the parlous state of the UK economy it would be insane to mandate widespread infrastructure change.
Are we not bankrupt enough already?

Robbie K
Robbie K
9 months ago

This is very misleading. The vast majority of all voters support net zero ideology, the difficulty in supporting specific policies such as banning petrol cars however is that the technology and infrastructure is not in place to make this a reality. Same goes for gas boilers.
It’s a massive failure by the government on so many levels.

Chris Carter
Chris Carter
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

You can’t magic up technologies which are more efficient than gas for heating and oil for transportation. While the US is throwing money around, they are not mandating any changes, and of course CHINA is laughing all the way to the bank, partly thanks to…cheap energy.
You couldn’t make this shit up.

Robbie K
Robbie K
9 months ago
Reply to  Chris Carter

Unfortunately those ‘efficient’ technologies are destroying the planet.

Chris Carter
Chris Carter
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

They really are not.

Robbie K
Robbie K
9 months ago
Reply to  Chris Carter

Then why is the world getting rid of them?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

The world is not getting rid of them, just us in the west. Oil consumption increased another 1% in 2022.

Tom Graham
Tom Graham
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

The world isn’t getting rid of them.
The world continues to consume oil, gas and coal and doesn’t care whether one small island off the west coast of Europe decides to destroy its economy trying to switch to wind and solar power only.

Simon Tavanyar
Simon Tavanyar
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

…claim the elites who have no problem affording their lavish lifestyles when energy prices go through the roof. But the poor will die in droves. The climate emergency is nothing but an elite takeover against average people who have had a decent living because of cheap energy, so that billionaire elites can literally make themselves gods after the “Brave New World” model. Please try to think for yourself. Why should you trust billionaires who are getting richer while the world gets poorer? Patronage?

Last edited 9 months ago by Simon Tavanyar
Robbie K
Robbie K
9 months ago
Reply to  Simon Tavanyar

What the hell are you on about?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago
Reply to  Chris Carter

The US is mandating massive changes to the auto industry. But they do it very dishonestly, by enacting restrictive regulations through the EPA.