Learn from COVID messaging to tackle climate, says Lords

The government could learn from previous behaviour change campaigns, such as those run throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, to help tackle climate change a Lords committee has said.  

The Environment and Climate Change Committee has said enabling behaviour change is crucial to meeting net zero by 2050, with 32% of emissions reductions by 2035 reliant on individual and household decisions to lower their emissions.  

Currently, the government’s approach to facilitating this is ‘seriously inadequate’, according to the new report.  

While the government has introduced some policies to encourage the take-up of green technologies, such as electric cars, this has not been replicated in other areas.  

The Committee has recommended the launch of a public engagement campaign to support the adoption of new technologies and the use of fiscal incentives and disincentives to encourage people to change their behaviour.  

man in gray dress shirt and blue denim jeans walking on sidewalk during daytime

Baroness Parminter, Chair of the Environment and Climate Change Committee, said: ‘After a summer of record temperatures, fires and hose pipe bans, it has never been more apparent that the twin crises of climate change and nature loss demand an immediate and sustained response. 

‘People power is critical to reach our environmental goals, but unless we are encouraged and enabled to change behaviours in how we travel, what we eat and buy and how we heat our homes, we won’t meet those targets. Polling shows the public is ready for leadership from the Government. People want to know how to play their part in tackling climate change and environmental damage.’ 

The government has responded by saying it is fully committed to meeting net zero goals, but Liz Truss has already indicated she would not be driving behaviour change.  

‘I’m not going to tell you what to do or how to live your life,’ she said at the recent Conservative party conference.  

She also scrapped plans to roll out an information campaign on how people can reduce their energy consumption amidst the cost-of-living crisis.  

But the Committee says this is the wrong direction to follow if we are to ensure environmental protection. 

It said the government could learn from COVID-19 behaviour change campaigns where science was clearly communicated, and messaging was threatened by misinformation.  

It also suggested burden should not be placed on groups who cannot afford to change their behaviour and that the government should work with groups and organisations across society which can be critical in securing behaviour change.  

Photo by Kevin Grieve


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