The top environmental issue that Conservatives most want to see the Government taking action on is increasing renewable energy. 85 percent of Conservative voters want to see renewable energy targets maintained or strengthened after Brexit and the same number want household appliances to be made more energy efficient. This figure increased to 92 percent when asked about maintaining or strengthening measures to reduce air pollution.
Most Conservatives also view renewables more favourably than fossil fuels or nuclear. The most popular renewable energy technology among Conservative voters is solar power, followed by tidal, offshore wind, biomass and onshore wind. 59 percent support the further development of onshore wind farms, providing they receive no subsidies.
60 percent of Conservatives accept that man-made climate change is happening. This is the majority position despite the socio-demographic characteristic. 71 percent are proud of the UK passing the Climate Change Act 2008, the most common reason for this given being the economic opportunities from low-carbon industries.
Conservatives agree most about the secondary benefits of climate change policies, such as improving the natural environment (89 percent) and reducing dependency on fossil fuels (88 percent). However, the least popular argument is the appeal to trust scientific evidence on climate change (68 percent).
The think-tank’s Green Conservatism project was established to debate, devise and showcase new centre-right environmental ideas, according to the reports Executive Summary. It recommends that conservatism should be strongly associated with environmental action, despite the views of a minority of high-profile ‘conservatives’ who deny climate change and are sceptical about taking action to protect the environment generally. The report also urges the Government to ‘command strong public support’, particularly among conservatives.
Reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050 was legally mandated by the Climate Change Act 2008 and thus is not part of EU legislation. This means that the minority of Conservatives who deny climate change are highly unlikely to see this legislation repealed.
A significant variation observable in the report is the finding that younger Conservatives are consistently more likely to support environmental policies, particularly those relating to climate change. Indeed, the report finds that most Conservative voters would like to see a strengthening of Government action on the environment and climate change particularly.