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73% of Britons want government to prioritise cost-of-living over climate

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of the British public say they want the government to prioritise tackling the cost-of-living crisis over the climate crisis, according to a YouGov survey.

This is very different from the picture last year, when only 55% of participants said the economy should be prioritised over the climate crisis. However, even then the climate was not considered the top priority, with 67% believing spending should be focused on health.

This year that sentiment has increased, with 70% and 65% believing the government should prioritise health and the economy respectively.

The cost-of-living crisis is crippling households across the UK, with inflation at 9.9%, rising food and petrol prices and soaring mortgage rates.

YouGov found 54% of Britons even said they could temporarily support increasing coal power to avoid blackouts, while 51% said they would support this to reduce energy bills.

This is despite coal being one of the most unpopular forms of energy, with just 20% of respondents having a favourable opinion of coal in a 2019 YouGov survey.

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However, many climate organisations say the cost-of-living and climate crises can be tackled together through renewable energy and mass home insulation.

The YouGov survey also reflects this, with 53% believing the government has a great deal or a fair amount of capacity to bring down the cost of living without cutting environmental policies.

The latest report from think tank Green Alliance also supports this, as it has found an accelerated roll-out of green technologies, such as heat pumps, electric vehicles and home insulation, could help struggling households.

According to this, widening access to low carbon solutions will help poorer households to heat their homes, through heat pump incentives, financial support to install heat pumps and insulation and improvements to minimum energy efficiency standards.

The report also underlined the need to grow the second hand electric vehicle market and to improve public transport services and walking and cycling infrastructure to support lower income households.

Stuart Dossett, senior policy adviser at Green Alliance, said: ‘The prime minister is fond of saying that she wants to ‘grow the pie’ of the economy. There is no doubt that green technologies have huge potential to drive economic growth in the UK long into the future.

‘But what this report shows is that by improving access to green solutions like heat pumps and electric vehicles, coupled with reducing the price of electricity, we can also tackle rising fuel and transport poverty as well. With inflation and energy bills set to stay high, the government urgently needs to widen the benefits of these technologies.’

Photo by Emil Kalibradov

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