Thursday 23 January 2020 12:01 am

Citizens Advice warns government over ability to achieve net zero by 2050

Charity network Citizens Advice has issued a warning to the government saying that it risks fatally undermining the country’s ability to achieve net zero by 2050 unless it puts the public at the heart of the process.

According to a new report from the charity, which is the UK’s official consumer watchdog for energy, 82 per cent of people support the government’s commitment.

However, the majority of these are concerned about the costs and inconvenience they will face by making the necessary changes.

Just only a third of those surveyed were aware they need to change the way their home is heated, despite the Committee on Climate Change’s belief that 90 per cent of homes need to install low-carbon heating systems for the UK to meet its net-zero goal by 2050.

Even within this minority, 76 per cent said they would need financial support if they were to change their heating system.

In order to hit 2050 targets, 29m homes will have to have their heating systems replaced by low-carbon alternatives.

Again, only 44 per cent of UK adults realised that they would have to switch to an electric vehicle in the future. Of these, 66 per cent said they would need financial support.

The report is one of several the charity will release to highlight the important role that consumers have to play in achieving the targets.

Dame Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Public support for the changes needed to reach net zero is essential. Without it the government risks fatally undermining the country’s ability to achieve a carbon neutral society, which is so urgently needed.

“The public overwhelmingly backs the net-zero target. But if people don’t understand what changes will be needed to get there and the process is complex and confusing, public support could quickly fall away.”

This weekend will see the first meeting of the UK’s first climate assembly in Birmingham, a initiative designed to give government an insight into the public’s view of its 2050 targets.

110 individuals with a wide range of views on climate change will join the debate on the weekend, with conclusions to be published in April.

Business secretary Andrea Leadsom welcomed the initiative, saying: “It’s excellent to see people coming together to tackle this global issue.

“Having committed to end our contribution to climate change entirely by 2050 we will need input from all across the UK, so I look forward to seeing what conclusions the assembly reaches later this year.”