A poll of 2,000 Britons released today gives the lie to beliefs propagated by MPs and newspapers on the Conservative right that the public wants green taxes scrapped to save homes from rising energy bills.
Paid for by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, a non-profit alliance of Parliamentarians, academics, energy policy experts and climate scientists, the survey by pollsters Opinium finds that only 13 % of respondents believe green taxes are to blame for rocketing retail energy prices.
Instead, 34% of respondents cite energy companies’ alleged profiteering as the main cause of Britain’s looming tariff hikes. A further 29% blame Vladimir Putin’s use of gas as a tool in geopolitics, narrowly ahead of 28% who point to global economic recovery pushing energy costs higher as the coronavirus pandemic eases.
Evidence that voters think more strategically about energy than demagogic MPs or red-top editors comes in the survey’s revelation that 51% of respondents back boosting electrification and cutting the UK’s gas dependency in making power.
Enthusiasm for returning to fossil fuels has slumped to single figures among the public, the survey indicates. Seeking more output from North Sea oil and gas, or resurrecting troubled ventures in UK onshore fracking, attract the support of only nine and eight per cent respectively in the poll.
Windy, and blowing hard
Levies such as bill-payers’ contributions to the Energy Company Obligation and the Feed-in Tariff have attracted the noisy ire of WhatsApp-based cabals among Conservative MPs. These include the Net Zero Scrutiny group, the Common Sense group and its Tufton Street advisors Net Zero Watch. The Daily Mail frequently weighs in, as does the Daily Express.
“The public’s finger is clearly on the pulse”, EEIG head of analysis Dr Simon Cran-McGreehin commented.
“They are correctly identifying Russian interference and global gas demand as causes of the current gas crisis while also spotting that gas companies’ profits are rising in line with gas prices.
“Net zero measures such as insulation and boosting British renewables are saving people money during this gas crisis. Early green levies drove down the costs and everyone now knows that new wind and solar are the cheapest way to make electricity in the UK”, he added.
Britons remain poor in estimating how much good insulation slashes from bills, the poll finds. More than four in five of respondents expressing a view – 55% of the total – underestimated how much lower the average annual heating bill of a well insulated home is, compared to a poorly insulated one. Increasing from a ‘Band D’ home efficiency to ‘Band C’ would save the average household £170 on their annual heating bill with the anticipated price cap rise in April.
The UK’s Net Zero target adopted by the Johnson administration is backed by 73% of Britons, today’s poll reports. Echoing findings made by the Office of Budgetary Responsibility and the Treasury that the impacts of flooding and climate threats are greater than costs of tackling emissions, only 29% think we “can’t afford” policies to address climate change.
The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit’s advisory board includes former Conservative leader Lord Michael Howard, Andrea Leadsom MP, the Conservative former energy minister, the Church of England’s spokesperson on climate change, the vice-chair of the national federation of Women’s Institutes, the deputy president of the National Farmers Union, and Lord Adair Turner, former head the government’s independent scientific advisors the Climate Change Committee.