Research warns net zero policies risk plunging thousands into poverty

Net zero

The research, which was published at the beginning of this week, identifies profiles of households and communities across the UK that are at risk of being impacted by current net zero policy. Experts found that a large proportion will potentially be facing ‘transition poverty’ due to the heightened cost-of-living.

Against this backdrop, researchers found people who have existing debt, credit, or constrained spending power; people in social or rented housing; and communities with fragile economies are expected to face the greatest barriers to participation when it comes to net zero.

However, the report, which was funded by the Nuffield Foundation and can be found in full here, found that despite facing severe financial distress the majority of the public have still shown an interest in helping to achieve net zero goals. Experts discovered that people were keen to participate in low-carbon living, with some taking on ’DIY’ strategies at home, ranging from homemade solar lighting to DIY insulation techniques.

In addition, the research highlighted that local councils and central government were not trusted to lead sustainable changes so members of the public had no choice but to take matters into their own hands.

In lieu of this, researchers brought participatory primary research, a review of poverty and social justice literature, and a review of scenarios of change towards net zero in the UK together for the first time. Findings were shared with local government and communities in four local authorities in England, exploring what incentives, levers and policies might unlock greater, inclusive participation in transition.

Building on these co-created policies, the report now calls for an integrated system with strategic alignment between national and local government, and public service providers, the private sector, and communities.

Some of the recommendations include building a collective action and policy for net zero transition and including people in the design of fair outcomes to enable a place-focused, inclusive debate during, and as a result of, net zero transition.

Emily Morrison, director of sustainability and just transition at The Young Foundation said: ‘Our research shows there is a will, an appetite, and even an urgency amongst the public, including the most vulnerable and poorest households, to participate in the transition to net zero.

‘But this has to be enabled through policy and practice that works with real people’s lives, and the places they live in. Current policy will result in winners and losers through net zero transition, and we cannot let it become another part of UK policy that needs to be ‘levelled up’.

‘If we build participation, rather than waiting to nudge people and hoping they’ll comply, and if we remove barriers, build on community assets, and maximise local readiness, we can reconcile decarbonisation with fair and just outcomes that mean decarbonisation does not leave anyone, or any place, behind.’


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About Stu Turley 3278 Articles
Stuart Turley is President and CEO of Sandstone Group, a top energy data, and finance consultancy working with companies all throughout the energy value chain. Sandstone helps both small and large-cap energy companies to develop customized applications and manage data workflows/integration throughout the entire business. With experience implementing enterprise networks, supercomputers, and cellular tower solutions, Sandstone has become a trusted source and advisor.   He is also the Executive Publisher of, the best source for 24/7 energy news coverage, and is the Co-Host of the energy news video and Podcast Energy News Beat. Energy should be used to elevate humanity out of poverty. Let's use all forms of energy with the least impact on the environment while being sustainable without printing money. Stu is also a co-host on the 3 Podcasters Walk into A Bar podcast with David Blackmon, and Rey Trevino. Stuart is guided by over 30 years of business management experience, having successfully built and help sell multiple small and medium businesses while consulting for numerous Fortune 500 companies. He holds a B.A in Business Administration from Oklahoma State and an MBA from Oklahoma City University.