Skip to main content
Political Leadership

Research paper: High carbon lifestyles can undermine climate messaging

15 June 2021

In new research written up in a commentary for The Conversation, the risk of political leaders’ high carbon lifestyles could undermine the credibility of the messages they convey on climate change. Whilst the research focuses specifically on political leaders, the same arguments apply to a wide range of individuals and organisations who deliver climate messages (including the climate movement itself).

“The public fully understand political leaders have tight schedules and their activities inevitably involve plenty of high-carbon activities such as air travel.

But people are also very sensitive to the details of each specific situation and alert to signals and behavioural cues from leaders. Context is crucial.

If our leaders are not perceived as fully committed, will they be able to take the public with them as the need for behaviour change becomes more and more pressing?”

Reference article:

The latest from the Political Leadership timeline:

Policy Insight 8th April 2024

Green Alliance policy tracker: March 2024 update

The Green Alliance Net Zero policy tracker has monitored government policies since 2020. The March 2024 update compares progress against the emissions pathways set out in the Net Zero Strategy, last updated in 2023. The report concludes that across the whole economy, and for many individual sectors, there is a continued lack of progress on decarbonisation, and adds that ‘strong leadership is missing across the political spectrum’.

Beyond the material threat to decarbonisation this lack of leadership poses, Climate Barometer tracker data is clear that voters want and expect leadership on climate change.

Its absence therefore also undermines policies which require buy-in and acquiescence from the public, including the transition from gas boilers to electrified heat pumps.

Opinion Insight 21st February 2024

ECIU polling: more voters had heard about Labour’s green investment ‘U-turn’ than the policy itself

In the wake of Labour’s announcement that their green investment pledge would be scaled back, the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) commissioned snap polling from Opinium.

Only 14% of people reported being ‘very aware’ of Labour’s (previously) proposed £28 billion a year investment plans. This is worth noting, as a significant amount of debate within green policy circles has focused on this specific number (but most of the public wasn’t aware of it in the first place).

Roughly double the number of people (26%) said they were ‘very aware’ of the decision to reduce the £28 billion pledge, though, suggesting that for a significant number of people, the intense media debate around whether or not Labour would ‘U-turn’ would have been the first time they had encountered the policy.

Read our analysis taking stock of what the policy shift from Labour is likely to have meant to voters here.

View Political Leadership timeline now

Add Feedback