New polling from Ipsos in the UK shows that the public are split in their reaction to the government’s announcement that it will delay or cancel some Net Zero policies.
However, there is little sign that it has improved overall attitudes towards the Conservatives when it comes to the environment or reducing the cost of living.
Attitudes to the Net Zero announcement
Around half of Britons (49%), say they had heard at least a fair amount about Rishi Sunak’s announcement that the government was going to make some changes to delay or cancel some Net Zero policies. Another 26% said they had heard not very much, and 23% that they heard of it but know nothing or not heard anything at all.
Among those aware of the announcement (ie, the 75% who say they had heard at least not very much about it), based on what they knew or had heard 47% feel the government was right, and 46% that it was wrong. 7 in 10 (71%) of 2019 Conservative voters aware of the announcement say it is the right decision, compared with 24% of 2019 Labour voters.
The public are also split on the likely impact of the changes. Before the announcement, only 22% said they were confident that the UK would hit its Net Zero target by 205, 66% lacked confidence. There was little sign of this improving among those aware of the announcement – half (48%) said it made them less confident the UK would hit its target, 13% more confident and 33% little difference
Similarly, among those aware of the announcement views are split on whether it would be good or bad for, or have little impact on, British business (28% good,32% bad, 28% make no difference), or the cost of living (22% reduce, 27% increase, 39% make no difference).
Four in 10 (39%) of those aware of the announcement think it shows Rishi Sunak is taking a short-term approach to climate change policies, 25% that he is taking a long-term approach.
Impact on overall attitudes to the parties and the Prime Minister
Overall ratings of the job Rishi Sunak is doing as PM have worsened since July. 52% think he is doing a bad job (up 13 ppts), and 19% a bad job (down 8 ppts).
Public trust in the Conservatives to reduce the cost of living and to make the right decisions on the environment remains low. 15% say they trust them at least a fair amount to reduce their family’s cost of living (down 9 pts since April), while 79% do not trust them much at all.
One in four (26%) trust the Conservatives to make the right decisions to protect the environment, 66% do not.
Labour receives higher trust scores than the Conservatives on the cost of living and environment, although the balance of opinion is still negative. 36% trust Labour to reduce the cost of living (57% do not), while 41% trust them to make the right decisions on the environment (49% do not).
On tax and spend, 26% trust the Conservatives (79% do not), 36% trust Labour (56% do not).
Gideon Skinner, Head of Political Research at Ipsos UK, said, “Rishi Sunak is facing a balancing act with his recent announcement on delaying or cancelling some Net Zero policies, needing to show the public he is still taking climate change seriously while also addressing concerns about the cost of living. These latest results suggest the immediate public reaction to the announcement is split, with as many thinking it was the right decision as the wrong one – with at least his own 2019 base more clearly in favour.
However, there is less sign that it has improved overall levels of trust in the Conservatives on the cost of living, while confidence in them on the environment is also low. More work is needed both to deliver improvements on the economy and to engage with public concerns that a long-term approach on climate change really is being taken, in order to change people’s minds.