Majority support 100% clean power by 2035, as gas drives up UK energy bills

Chris Venables Chris VenablesHead of politics020 7630 4527cvenables@green-alliance.org.uk
Two thirds (66 per cent) of British adults would support the UK government setting a target of moving to 100 per cent clean electricity by 2035, according to a new YouGov poll. [1]
 
These findings come as new analysis by energy think tank Ember reveals that electricity prices have tripled in the past year, with 86 per cent of this caused by the soaring costs of fossil gas imports.
 
According to the poll from YouGov, 37 per cent of respondents said they would ‘strongly support’ the government setting a target of moving to 100 per cent clean electricity by 2035, and a further 29 per cent of respondents would ‘tend to support’ it. Significantly, just 11 per cent opposed the idea.
 
The call to phase out fossil fuels by 2035 is backed by leading UK companies, including BT, Nestlé, Thames Water, Co-op and Octopus, who have published an open letter “urging” the UK government to commit to the “full decarbonisation of UK electricity generation by 2035”.
 
A new report by Ember, The UK clean power plan, shows that modelling developed by three independent bodies in the UK: the Committee on Climate Change (the CCC), 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 targets and stay on track for a net zero carbon economy. 
 
The results mirror analysis from the International Energy Agency (IEA) which has demonstrated that advanced economies, like the UK, should target net zero electricity by 2035 to avoid dangerous climate change. Public pressure is mounting ahead of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow later this year, with 61 per cent of British adults surveyed by YouGov saying they are worried about the impact of the UK's carbon emissions on climate change.
 
The UK could reduce its 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 as expensive as new solar.
 
Caterina Brandmayr, head of climate policy at Green Alliance, said:
“Our reliance on gas power is pushing up bills, destabilising our economy and driving run-away climate change. Ahead of COP26, the British public and business are calling on the UK government to announce plans to clean up our power sector by 2035 and kidck polluting fossil fuels off the energy grid."

Anthony Browne MP and Environment APPG chair, said:
“The recent hike in gas prices will be a challenge this winter. Committing to phasing out gas by 2035 will show global climate leadership, while investing in low carbon technologies is the best and most cost-effective way to ensure a crisis like this doesn’t happen again.”
 
Emma Keller, head of sustainability at Nestlé UK and Ireland, said:
“As we approach COP26, it's important for the UK to show leadership through a commitment to decarbonise the UK power sector by 2035. At Nestlé we are committed to generating our own electricity from clean sources in one of the important steps we are taking to tackle climate change.”

Note to editors:

Green Alliance
Green Alliance is a charity and independent think tank, focused on ambitious leadership for the environment. With a track record of over 40 years, Green Alliance has worked with the most influential leaders from the NGO, business, academic and political communities. Our work generates new thinking and dialogue, and has increased political action and support for environmental solutions in the UK. www.green-alliance.org.uk 

YouGov
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+).

[1] Clean power is defined as electricity production that does not involve burning fossil fuels.
[2] This figure is recalculated from respondents who said that there should be a transition. 29% said the UK should transition to clean electricity, even if this means higher electricity prices. 55% said the UK should transition to clean electricity, but only if electricity prices are kept stable.
 

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