British public and businesses back clean power 2035

by | Sep 24, 2021

Fuel poverty and the climate crisis are worsened by the UK’s reliance on fossil gas power.

According to a YouGov poll, two-thirds (66%) of British adults would support the Government setting a target of moving to 100% clean electricity by 2035; defined as electricity production that does not involve burning fossil fuels. 

According to the poll from research and data analytics firm YouGov, 37% of respondents said they would ‘strongly support’ the Government setting a target of moving to 100% clean electricity by 2035, and a further 29% of respondents would ‘tend to support’ it. Just 11% opposed the idea, while 23% remained undecided.

The 2035 call is backed by leading British companies including BT, Nestlé, Co-Op, Thames Water and Octopus, who have published an open letter “urging” the government to commit to the “full decarbonisation of UK electricity generation by 2035”.

Fuel poverty and the climate crisis are worsened by the UK’s reliance on fossil gas power.

A new report ‘The UK Clean Power Plan’ by think tank Ember shows that modelling developed by three independent bodies in the UK – the Committee on Climate Change, National Grid ESO and The Energy Systems Catapult – all reach the same conclusion that the UK must phase out unabated gas power by 2035 at the latest to achieve its emissions goals and stay on track for Net Zero. 

The results mirror modelling from the International Energy Agency which demonstrated that advanced economies like the UK should target net zero electricity by 2035 to avoid dangerous climate change beyond 1.5C. Public pressure is mounting ahead of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow later this year, with 61% of British adults surveyed by YouGov saying they are worried about the impact of the UK’s carbon emissions on climate change.

Rising electricity prices major concern 

In addition to concerns about emissions, 71% of Brits are also worried about their electricity bills continually rising over the next ten years. While 84% of British adults agreed that the UK should transition to clean electricity, almost two-thirds (65%) that thought this should only be undertaken if electricity prices are kept stable.

The findings come as new analysis by energy think tank Ember reveals that electricity prices have tripled in the last year, with 86% of this caused by the soaring costs of fossil gas imports. The UK still relied on fossil gas for 37% of its electricity in 2020, while wind power generated 24%. 

The UK could reduce electricity costs by switching from expensive imports of fossil gas to homegrown renewable energy. The analysis by Ember showed that generating electricity from existing UK fossil gas power plants is now three times more expensive than from new onshore wind and almost twice that from new solar. Even when carbon allowances are excluded from the generation costs, fossil gas electricity is still more expensive than wind and solar.

Ember’s COO Phil MacDonald said: 

“Setting an end date for gas power gives the Government a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate their climate credentials ahead of COP26, and to repeat the international success of the UK’s world-leading coal phase-out.

Crucially, rapidly moving away from gas can cut energy bills: making the switch from expensive imported gas to cheap homegrown wind and solar.

Experts  agree: the UK electricity system can rapidly end its contribution to climate change, whilst becoming cheaper and more secure.”

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,676 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 9th – 10th September 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

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