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23 June 2020

Public supports working from home to fight climate change

Around 80 per cent of Climate Assembly UK members said economic recovery should "help achieve net-zero”.

By Samir Jeraj

A large majority of the general public believe that employers should support lifestyle changes to mitigate climate change, and that the government should contextualise any economic recovery plans with a net-zero emissions target in mind, according to a report from Climate Assembly UK.

The assembly, a representative group of 108 members of the public chosen from 30,000 randomly selected households across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, was set up by Parliament in 2019. The group has met on six occasions in Spring 2020, during which members have considered and discussed research and programmes relating to renewable energy and the environment.

Its most recent meeting has yielded close to a consensus that the Covid-19 crisis represents a chance to rethink how the UK economy works. The assembly supported government action on supporting low-carbon industries, while limiting support to carbon-intensive pursuits such as fossil fuels.

Working from home, transport changes and encouraging walking, running and cycling were found to be popular, with many assembly members supporting measures to support a permanent shift for the people who want to work in this way. 

They also contended that countering the coronavirus and climate change were not mutually exclusive and could be brought together into a set of policies. However, they believed government needed to show leadership on creating a lasting impact on climate change through a Green recovery. “It has become important for the government, Parliament and business organisations to strongly consider a recovery approach that will not cause further harm to the planet,” one assembly member, a GP from Surrey. 

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Around 80 per cent of the assembly members agreed that “steps taken by the government to help the economy recover should be designed to help achieve net-zero”, while over 90 per cent said that the government should aim to encourage positive lifestyle changes among the public. The group is due to publish a more detailed report in September.