The public strongly supports Boris Johnson’s bid to curb climate change – but they are not prepared to pay more than £5 extra a week in tax to fund his trillion-pound green energy plans.
They fear the proposals are not well thought-out and may lead to power cuts.
They are among the key findings of a Daily Mail poll on the eve of the Cop26 summit in Glasgow aimed at reversing global warming.
An extra £260 a year represents just over a tenth of the estimated annual £2,500 cost per voter for reaching the Government’s 2050 zero carbon target
The survey by JL Partners illustrates the scale of Mr Johnson’s task as he hosts Cop26 with the aim of winning international support for tough action to make the world carbon neutral.
The good news for him is that voters back his 2050 zero carbon emissions target for Britain, including banning gas boilers and new petrol and diesel cars in the coming years.
And they urge him to press ahead with them even if ‘big polluters’ such as China, whose president Xi Jinping is boycotting Cop26, refuse to act.
The bad news for the Prime Minister is that the poll highlights the enormous political gamble he is taking.
The public strongly supports Boris Johnson’s bid to curb climate change – but they are not prepared to pay more than £5 extra a week in tax to fund his trillion-pound green energy plans
It reveals deep public skepticism over whether his measures will work – and Conservative supporters are the biggest doubters.
A total of 36 per cent of all voters worry his ‘green energy’ policies will lead to ‘the lights going out’. However, 31 per cent are not worried about this.
People are not prepared to see living standards plummet to meet the eye-watering cost of his plans, estimated by some at a trillion pounds.
Six in ten are unwilling to spend an extra penny on domestic fuel to pay for ‘green energy’.
But two out of three (66 per cent) say they are ready to pay a maximum £5 rise in their weekly tax bill – £260 a year – to reach Mr Johnson’s 2050 zero carbon target.
However, only one in 25 (4 per cent) are prepared to pay £25 more per week in tax (£1,300 per year) for this purpose.
An extra £260 a year represents just over a tenth of the estimated annual £2,500 cost per voter for reaching the Government’s 2050 zero carbon target.
Mr Johnson’s wife, environmental campaigner Carrie, is credited by voters for influencing her husband’s views on climate change.
Moreover, 43 per cent say she has been a good influence; 33 per cent disagree.
The conflict between the desire to curb climate change and alarm about the cost and effectiveness of doing so is reflected in the response to the Government’s plan to ban gas boilers by 2035 and replace them with heat pumps.
Nearly one in two (48 per cent) back the proposal while 25 per cent do not support it. But reports that heat pumps can cost up to £20,000 and don’t work have clearly had an impact.
Only in 20 say they will definitely take up the Government’s offer of a £5,000 grant towards a heat pump; a further 14 per cent say they will probably do so.
But two in three (67 per cent) say they either definitely or probably won’t take up the offer.
Voters urge Mr Johnson to press ahead with emissions targets even if ‘big polluters’ such as China, whose president Xi Jinping is boycotting Cop26, refuse to act
A majority – 51 per cent – support plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, although Conservative voters are less keen, with 44 per cent in favour and 37 per cent against.
Only 3 per cent of all voters already own an electric car, while 39 per cent say they will probably buy one.
An overwhelming 53 per cent blame China for the climate change crisis; America is second on 14 per cent with the UK and India on 4 per cent each.
But 68 per cent say that Mr Johnson should press ahead with radical action to tackle the problem even if nations such as China do nothing.
Barely one in four think Cop26 will be a success – four in ten say it will fail. Asked what they will do personally to tackle climate change the most popular is ‘put on an extra jumper’ to keep warm in winter, ‘fewer foreign holidays’ is well down the list and ‘buy a heat pump’ is bottom.
James Johnson, of JL Partners, said: ‘On the one hand, Boris Johnson has an easier task ahead of him than countries that are more polarised on the environment – like the US, Canada and Australia.
‘An overwhelming number of Britons – nearly 90 per cent – say that they believe climate change is happening, and want to see action to address it.
Mr Johnson’s wife, environmental campaigner Carrie, is credited by voters for influencing her husband’s views on climate change
‘But there is a gap between the idea of tackling climate change – and the reality of the costs of it.
‘Though there is enthusiasm for climate change action in principle, and people feel it will help the economy in the long-run, they are not willing to part with their cash.’
He added: ‘The public is not confident that Cop26 will change their minds and the failure of attendance by president Xi and Vladimir Putin has clearly harmed the summit in its eyes.
‘But there is a glimmer of hope for the Government. Voters think we should still lead the world by example and back a binding climate agreement even without China and other big polluters.
‘It is that patriotic case for net zero – the “show the rest of the world how it is done” spirit – that may yet make the summit a success in the public’s eyes.’
JL Partners interviewed 1,043 adults online on Tuesday.