Most people in Scotland are ‘in the dark’ over what net-zero means for them

Politicians must have an “honest conversation” with Scottish people after new research showed the majority are unaware that changes will be made to their homes in the journey to net-zero. The majority of adults back the UK’s efforts to reach net zero emissions but 90 per cent don’t know what impact climate measures will have in their own lives, according to new research. The study found that, ahead of the COP26 environmental conference in Glasgow later this year, most households in Scotland are not aware of the “essential” changes required to slash carbon emissions in their homes. Craig Meighan discusses the findings in an article on The National website. Is it any different in your country?

 

Scots ‘in the dark’ on how net-zero emissions goal affects them, study finds

Consumers are supportive of the goal of net-zero emissions by 2045 but are “in the dark” over the challenges it will pose in their own lives, according to Citizens Advice Scotland.

Research for the charity carried out by YouGov found that 68% of Scottish adults supported moves towards net-zero by 2045, with 41% believing that reducing the impact of climate change should become more of a priority for the Scottish Government in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, 59% thought making homes more energy efficient should be prioritised in the government’s climate response.

However, understanding of the impact of the measures required to meet net-zero were low, with 65% having “no identifiable energy efficiency measures or renewable technologies” installed in their home.

Citizen’s Advice Scotland’s fair markets spokesperson Kate Morrison said: “Later this year the eyes of the world will be on Scotland as Glasgow hosts COP26, and this new briefing from Citizens Advice Scotland gives us a clear insight into how Scottish consumers view climate change.

“The good news is clear support for action towards net-zero, and support for energy efficiency in people’s homes being made more of a priority.

“However, consumers are in the dark over the impact of net-zero on their own lives, particularly when it comes to heating their homes.

“Most people did not realise use of natural gas would have to be phased out or reduced massively, and would not pick low-carbon heating systems as a measure they should take to reduce their carbon footprint.

“This really matters because changing to low-carbon heating will be essential if Scotland is to meet our emissions targets.

“When people did realise low- carbon heating was important, concerns switched to costs – whether the upfront cost of installation or potentially higher energy bills.”

She continued: “These concerns are totally understandable, but as we’ve seen in the recent Climate Change Committee reports, the reality is that not acting in time will result in consumers having to pay even more in the future.

“Policy-makers need to understand what these findings mean for our journey to net-zero, and have an honest conversation with the public of the role we have to play.

“While governments need to drive this change, it won’t happen without consumers understanding their role, and the impact it will have upon their lives.”

Among those polled for the research, 17% believe that reducing water usage should be a priority.

Water heating accounts for 5% of all UK carbon emissions – the same amount as the aviation industry.

Nine in ten of those polled were not aware most homes and businesses would need to replace their gas heating systems with an alternative source of heating, like heat pumps, if Scotland is to reduce its reliance on “blue” hydrogen to meet its climate change commitments.

Blue hydrogen is created from fossil fuel sources, where the carbon emissions are captured and stored, whereas green hydrogen is made from non-fossil sources.

Respondents were asked what might concern them if they were considering installing a low-carbon heating system.

Cost was the biggest barrier, with 67% concerned about high upfront costs and 55% fearing higher energy bills.

A majority of respondents said that non-repayable grants would encourage them to join efforts to reach net-zero, with 55% of people saying they would be encouraged to install low-carbon heating if they were offered non-repayable grants that covered part of the cost.

And 62% said it would encourage them to install energy efficiency measures in their home generally.

Council tax rebates in the years following installation were also seen as measures that could encourage consumers to switch to low-carbon heating systems.

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3 thoughts on “Most people in Scotland are ‘in the dark’ over what net-zero means for them

  1. I have no argument with the results of the people survey. The article however, demonstrates the journalists lack of understanding of energy matters, particularly with respect to hydrogen. Blue is mentioned as the only option. Which is pathetic in a country like Scotland – given its wind resource.

    Work undertaken by PWR shows that for small to medium sized communities, the transition to zero-carbon electricity is trivial (in engineering terms and stands on its own two economic legs). This can be accomplished mostly with wind, possibly small hydro and some PV. Surplus elec is converted to green H2. As you move towards 100% green elec in any given community, elec production increases non-linearly (e.g. to get to 80% consumed zero-carbon elec you need to produce 120%). The surplus (40%) is converted to green H2. Etc.

    Naturally, one would aim for a mix of heating systems – heat pumps and fuel cells. Scotland is no different to England, the elec network has not been sized to support extensive HP-based heating systems. Naturally, Scottish DNOs are salivating at the prospect of large-scale (citizen-funded – natch!) network extensions. These can be avoided, certainly in small to medium-sized communities with hybrid heating approaches. This is unlikely to happen because of the large influence of the oil&gas mafia on Scottish (and English) politics.

    The article ends with a short discussion on funding the renovation of the built environment. This is treated as some sort of “charitable concern” with talk of “non-repayable grants”. This ignores the fact that the British (the Scots are no different from the English in this respect) treat their homes as ever expanding piggy banks (aye! – I see house prices are up another 5% this month!) but at the same time expect government handouts to move them away from energy incontinence. There are much better ways of doing this (e.g. interest free loans that get a fixed equity stake in the house) without giving yet more money to owner-occupiers.

    Overall, an interesting article from the people point of view. Technically, incoherent.

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