Petition Hold a referendum on whether to keep the 2050 net zero target
Set a referendum on whether the UK should continue with its 2050 net zero target.
I believe net zero target lacks legitimacy and without a referendum the current climate change policy lacks the explicit consent of the people, as argued by The Harrogate Agenda. This exposes a massive democratic deficit in our system of government.
This response was given on 29 November 2021
National referendums are a mechanism to endorse major constitutional change; debates about national policy are best determined through Parliamentary democracy and the holding of elections.
The government made a key manifesto commitment to reach “Net Zero by 2050 with investment in clean energy solutions and green infrastructure to reduce carbon emissions and pollution”. It was one of the top six pledges in the government’s manifesto, alongside policy commitments to help achieve the target. The net zero target was passed into law by Parliament with strong cross-Party support.
It is clear that public concern about climate change is high, having doubled since 2016, with 80% of people in the UK either concerned or very concerned (BEIS Public Attitudes Tracker Wave 37, 2021). We also know that people and businesses recognise that change must happen - 80% of respondents in a recent survey believe the way we live our lives will need to change to address climate change (BEIS, Climate change and net zero: public awareness and perceptions, 2021). In the same survey, after being provided with information on net zero, 78% of all participants said they strongly or somewhat supported the net zero target.
Moving away from fossil fuels and towards net zero gives us the unprecedented opportunity to:
- Create and secure thousands of well-paid, quality jobs across the UK, helping to level up the country. Tackling net zero will create thousands long-term jobs in our reindustrialised heartlands.
- Build a more secure, home-grown energy sector based on nuclear, wind, hydrogen and solar that is not reliant on imported fossil fuels, providing consumers with affordable, reliable energy for warmer homes and workplaces.
- Reduce harmful pollution which contaminates our air and our natural environment to improve our health and wellbeing, as well as that of future generations.
- Attract investment into UK businesses and industry, revitalising our industrial heartlands while driving down the costs of key technologies – from electric vehicles to heat pumps – to reduce bills and give the UK a competitive edge. Since the launch of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan we have secured £5.8bn in green foreign investment.
Recent volatile international gas prices have demonstrated that we need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. We need to protect consumers and businesses from global gas prices by increasing our domestic energy security through clean power that is generated in the UK for the people of the UK.
Taking action on climate is also crucial to strengthening the UK’s place in the global economy as we Build Back Better from the pandemic. The whole world is trying to capitalise on the benefits of going greener, investing in innovative new technology, building new industries, and creating quality jobs in sustainable sectors.
Our transition to net zero we will be tech-led using the best of British technology and innovation – just as we did in the last industrial revolution – to help make homes and buildings warmer, the air cleaner and our journeys greener, all while creating thousands of jobs in new future-proof industries.
Transitioning to net zero is not about telling people what to do or stopping people doing things; it’s about giving them the support they need to do the same things they do now but in a more sustainable way.
We must seize the moment to get a head start on this worldwide green industrial revolution and ensure UK industries, workers and the wider public benefit. Taking action now will put us at the forefront of large, expanding global markets and allow us to capitalise on export opportunities in low carbon technologies and services.
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
At 100,000 signatures...
At 100,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in Parliament