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Net zero, net confusion: Brits in the dark over net zero target

A recent study shows that despite high awareness of 'net zero', two-thirds of Britons are unclear on the actions needed to achieve ambitious 2050 climate targets

Two out of three Britons are struggling with confusion over how to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

The study, commissioned by Cadent and encompassing over 3,000 participants across the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, highlights significant discrepancies in understanding across these countries.

Although nearly 87% of respondents in the UK claimed familiarity with the concept of ‘net zero’, many remain uncertain about the practical steps required to meet challenging climate objectives.

This uncertainty is notably higher compared to Germany, where almost 61% of participants expressed comprehension and the Netherlands, where nearly 53% did so.

The research indicates that despite widespread awareness, a significant proportion of British respondents lack clarity on the specific measures needed to attain net zero.

Notably, one in three individuals indicated hesitance towards replacing their boilers, underscoring the persistent challenges associated with transitioning to more sustainable heating solutions.

Financial considerations emerge as a predominant factor influencing sustainability decisions, with almost 64% of UK households prioritising cost savings when making environmentally responsible choices.

However, there exists a notable reluctance among Britons to embrace high-impact changes such as transitioning to energy efficient appliances, in contrast to their European counterparts.

Current consumer actions predominantly focus on low impact initiatives like recycling (72%) and reducing food waste (65%), rather than more transformative measures such as adopting electric vehicles or upgrading heating systems.

Mark Belmega, Director of Social Purpose and Sustainability at Cadent, said: “The report’s findings are clear – financial support is vital and we have long been advocating for better support for our customers, particularly those on low incomes, to bring them on the journey towards net zero with us.

“The majority of people said they don’t see a clear vision for how the UK will achieve net zero, which confirms that strong leadership, collaboration and a powerful strategy are all desperately needed, with government and businesses having a critical role to play – but we must also look at the whole system.”

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