People support investing in insulating homes and other measures to tackle climate change to help recover from the coronavirus pandemic, polling suggests.
The findings come as a report says investing in a green recovery and low-carbon areas of employment – including a drive to insulate homes and prepare for new clean heating systems – could create 1.6 million new jobs.
Think tank IPPR’s report warns that without Government intervention, unemployment could rise by more than 2.1 million to almost 10% of the workforce.
But action to invest in improving the energy efficiency of homes and getting them ready to switch to clean heat pumps and district heating, as well as building new zero-carbon social housing, could generate 560,000 jobs, IPPR said.
Investing in better and more sustainable public transport including rail services and electric buses, more pedestrian areas, cycle lanes and electric vehicle charging could generate more than 230,000 jobs.
And support for 700,000 new jobs in social and health care would meet growing need over the next decade while being in line with a low-emissions economy by shifting away from resource-intensive growth to boosting local services, IPPR said.
Reports suggest reluctance on the part of Downing Street chief adviser Dominic Cummings to focus on energy-saving improvements to homes as part of the recovery, despite widespread calls for such programmes.
And there was dismay from environmental groups in response to the Prime Minister’s speech on a “new deal” to reboot the economy, which included building roads and raised the prospect of sweeping away environmental protections in the planning system.
Polling by Savanta ComRes for IPPR suggests ministers are out of step with the public on the issue, with 74% agreeing the Government should spend more on action which will address climate change and protect the environment.
More than three-quarters (76%) backed support for low-cost loans or grants to households for the installation of home insulation, the survey of more than 2,100 adults found.
Around two-thirds supported low-cost loans or grants for households to buy electric cars, and increased subsidies for public transport.
And when offered a range of possibilities for Government to prioritise for the recovery, people supported green actions above other options.
Building environmentally-friendly social housing, planting trees and retraining people for new jobs in the low-carbon economy scored highest among those polled, while road building programmes and airline bailouts were the least popular.
Luke Murphy, IPPR associate director, said: “Our report finds that clean recovery investments are good for jobs and good for the environment – and what’s more, the public agree.
“We urgently need to make substantial investment to insulate the nation’s homes, upgrade our public transport network and plant trees and restore nature.
“We can’t afford to wait for this – now is the time. These measures would not only create 1.6 million much-needed jobs, they’re popular with the public.
“If the Prime Minister really wants to emulate Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’ then the Government must significantly increase investment beyond what has been promised so far.”
A Government spokesperson said: “We are currently investing over £6 billion to improve the energy efficiency of as many houses as possible by 2028.
“In addition, over £320 million has been committed to help heat homes with lower carbon alternatives, such as heat networks and heat pumps.”