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    Grantham Institute survey: What benefits do people think climate policies will bring?
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    Opinion Insight 14th March 2024

    Grantham Institute survey: What benefits do people think climate policies will bring?

    Policies to cut carbon can bring a range of ‘co-benefits’. From cleaner air, to warmer homes, to the prospect of green jobs, these co-benefits have often been advocated as a way to build support for net zero among people who may be more interested in these side-effects of climate policies than net zero itself.

    In a new survey led by Neil Jennings at the Grantham Institute (Imperial College London), just over 1000 people were asked to assess nine different potential co-benefits of action on climate change.

    The top response was ‘homes that are more affordable to heat’. This was chosen as the most important benefit for individuals, for communities, and for the country as a whole. It was also supported by voters of all parties. In the context of the eyewatering cost of energy over the past two years, cheaper heating bills were a universally popular co-benefit of action on climate change.

    Another popular response was ‘improved energy security’. This makes a lot of sense, given that the rise in energy prices over the past two years was driven by a spike in the price of imported gas in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. And there’s growing evidence that renewables as a route to a more secure, homegrown energy system is a popular proposition across the political spectrum.

    Interestingly, there was much less support for the idea that climate policies could be drivers of job creation. The prospect of green jobs has routinely been used by campaigners and politicians alike to build support for net zero. But this survey – backed by wider research – suggests that claims about green jobs may not land as well as is assumed.

    But the survey makes it clear there’s work to do to persuade the public that even the most popular co-benefits are feasible in practice, with fewer people agreeing they’re practically achievable than identifying them as desirable in the first place.

    The problem here isn’t a lack of positivity towards job creation, its the level of trust in the government to deliver them. Whether its warmer homes, energy security, or new green jobs, practical and tangible examples of climate policies actually delivering the benefits people want to see play a crucial role.

    Climate policies really can deliver a whole host of positives. But when it comes to persuading the public of net zero co-benefits, seeing is believing.

    • Source: Imperial College London
    • Authors: Dr Neil Jennings, Dr Pauline Paterson, Prof Lorraine Whitmarsh, Dr Candice Howarth
    • Date: 6th March 2024

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