Peers for the Planet
House of Lords debates role of public behaviour change in helping UK reach net zero
Updated: Nov 23, 2021
On 16 September, the House of Lords debated the role of public behaviour change in helping the UK to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and the case for a comprehensive national public engagement strategy to facilitate this. The importance of public engagement to achieve net zero has been highlighted by a number of organisations, and was raised by the Climate Change Committee in its 2021 Progress Report to Parliament. The report highlighted that 62% of measures needed to reach net zero require changes to public behaviour but there is currently no centrally led strategy.
While support for climate action is high, research to date shows a lack of understanding amongst the public about the actions they can take, why and when they need to be taken. However, there is strong evidence that direct engagement on the types of behaviour change required for reaching net zero increases support for even more difficult policy choices.
The debate was put forward by P4P supporter, Baroness Blackstone, and was supported by other P4P Peers. The debate built on a sustained line of questioning by P4P members on public behaviour in recent months, such as oral questions in June and debates on the Skills and Post-16 Education and Education (Environment & Sustainable Citizenship) Bills, which are currently in the Lords. Peers highlighted the many areas in which change is needed, including personal finance, transport and heating, as well as tax and other policy incentives and disincentives. The Minister promised that a comprehensive approach to public engagement would be set out in the Government's long-awaited net zero strategy (due ahead of COP). The Minister also stated that the Government would monitor and evaluate its own contribution to developing public engagement and changing public behaviour. A response is still pending on any budget investment the Government will make on public engagement. More information (including a link to the debate) can be found here.