Climate Action

New poll reveals public believe “the government has the wrong priorities” for COVID-19 package

Poll commissioned by Conservative Environment Network reveals vast bulk of British public seeing a recovery that fails the environment as “bad for the economy”

  • 07 July 2020
  • Cordelia Van-Ristell

Poll commissioned by Conservative Environment Network reveals vast bulk of British public seeing a recovery that fails the environment as “bad for the economy”
The Covid-19 crisis has collapsed global economic activity, and with it, greenhouse gas emissions. The pandemic has brought cleaner air and skies across the world’s cities, and this has offered a glimpse of the scale of changes needed to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change.

As the government unveils their ambitious recovery plans in light of the coronavirus crisis, new data by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Conservative Environment Network (CEN), shows more than half of Brits want to see these plans involving measures that tackle pollution and climate change.

Selected to ensure representation in line with the national population on gender, age, geographical location and political leaning, the survey reveals that 69% of Brits would view a failure to tackle pollution and climate change in a post-coronavirus recovery plan as ‘a sign that the government has the wrong priorities.’

Renewable energy is prioritized as the nation's favoured sectors for job creation, acquiring 46% of respondents, followed by nature conservation at 37% and energy efficiency with a respectable 35%.

Auto manufacturing (5%), telecoms (12%) and road construction (18%) sat at the bottom of people’s priority list.

This survey also shows that over half of those polled (57%) believe tackling climate change in the economic recovery would ‘create new jobs and boost the economy.’

With also (53%) agreeing that ‘the government should bail out polluting companies like airlines and car makers’, and this is only if they make major changes to become more environmentally friendly.

“From this polling there is clear agreement - among Leaver and Remainer, Northerner and Southerner, Tory and Labour - on the need to build back better after coronavirus”, said Jerome Mayhew, Conservative MP for Broadland and Member of the CEN Caucus.

“As the G7 country with the fastest per capita GDP growth and the fastest decarbonisation rate since 1990, we know there is no contradiction between a thriving economy and a healthy environment. That is why I hope the Chancellor’s recovery package next week will tackle pollution and climate change, whilst creating jobs and prosperity across the UK.”

This poll comes soon after Boris Johnson delivered his ‘build, build, build’ speech, outlining the basic facets of the UK’s recovery package.

While many key figures welcomed the package’s provisions on nature, healthcare and schools, picked by 51% of the poll’s respondents as some of the infrastructure projects people want to see prioritised in their local area, the general consensus is that the plan is not yet green.

“We have heard plenty of welcome green recovery rhetoric from ministers in recent months and from the Prime Minister himself in his speech this week,” CEN director Sam Hall said.

“To avoid voters’ disapproval, the Chancellor must use his statement to set out a comprehensive and ambitious package of measures to level up the country, create jobs, and get us on track to net-zero. This polling shows strong support for prioritising local green infrastructure over brown; I hope the government now seizes this opportunity to deliver on the people’s priorities for the recovery.”