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Bad news for Nigel Farage as research finds net zero ‘overwhelmingly popular’

Former Brexit Party leader is campaigning for referendum on UK’s goal of hitting net zero carbon emissions by 2050

Saphora Smith
Climate Correspondent
Monday 25 April 2022 13:12 BST
Nigel Farage has called for a referendum on the government’s pledge to reach net zero by 2050.
Nigel Farage has called for a referendum on the government’s pledge to reach net zero by 2050. (AFP via Getty Images)

The government’s pledge to hit net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is “overwhelmingly popular,” according to a new poll which is likely to disappoint Nigel Farage and his campaign for a rethink of the key climate policy.

Sixty per cent of voters support the ambition of reaching net zero within three decades, compared to only 10 per cent who oppose the goal, according to a survey by the centre-right think tank Onward.

The research found support for reining in emissions remained high, at 55 per cent, even if it was going to be expensive, with the same proportion believing the Ukraine war meant the UK should move faster not slower towards net zero. Nearly 7 out of 10 voters said investing in renewables was the best way of securing the UK’s energy supply and believed the country should restrict the import of Russian gas even if it makes bills more expensive.

The findings are bad news for Mr Farage’s Vote Power Not Poverty campaign, which is calling for a referendum on the government’s pledge to reach net zero by 2050. The campaign says it wants to “galvanize the great British public into pushing back against a net zero agenda”.

It comes after Mr Farage, who has said his aim was to “kill off Boris Johnson’s ruinous green agenda,” said last month his campaign was “gaining traction” even after it was forced to cancel its launch event after a second venue pulled out of hosting it in Bolton. The campaign claimed “a wave of abuse, threats and intimidation” had led them to scrap the event.

Onward warned the ruling Conservative Party would ditch net zero “at their peril” as its polls show that net zero scepticism is “completely out of touch” with public opinion.

The research, published on Monday, found nearly half of voters said they would be less likely to vote for a party that pledged to get rid of the net zero target, with only 15 per cent saying such a policy would help to win their support.

Nigel Farage compares UKIP to France's far-right leader Marine Le Pen

The poll also shows that working class Conservatives are more supportive of investing in renewable energy than more affluent Tory voters. They are also more optimistic about new job opportunities in renewables, and confident in the UK’s leading role in the scienece and technology needed to reach net zero, it found.

Experts have denounced The Vote Power Not Poverty campaign as “disingenuous” and said some of the facts it cited were “inaccurate,” including that the government’s net zero pledge will make “us poorer and colder.”

But Richard Tice, who co-founded he Vote Power Not Poverty campaign with Mr Farage, suggested most claims that investing in renewables would drive done energy prices were based on hope rather than reality.

“People are nervous in polls of saying they don’t support net zero but in reality are terrified of the fuel heating and energy bills,” he told The Independent.

The Independent has also contacted Mr Farage for comment.

In 2019 MPs approved the UK’s target of reaching net zero by 2050, making it legally binding, without a single objection. The UK’s independent Climate Change Committee has said progress will need to accelerate if the country is to reach net zero by mid-century.

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