How can policy help the public make net zero choices?

How can policy support public behavioural change to meet net zero?

APPG on Infrastructure & ICE open consultation



Today, the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Infrastructure have launched a Green Paper consultation exploring what decision makers can do to support public behaviour changes needed to meet net zero targets.

While the UK is committed to reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, it remains unclear what personal actions people will have to take in their everyday lives to reduce emissions.

What should a net zero public engagement strategy look like? 

There is broad public support for tackling climate change and moving towards net zero, but not very much understanding about how the transition will impact people’s everyday lives.

The right policies can help the public make net zero choices, but what should policy focus on? Previous polling conducted by the ICE in 2022 showed that without government support:

  • 56% of the public would find it difficult to switch to an electric vehicle.
  • 46% would find it difficult to use public transport more.
  • 62% also said it would be difficult to install a heat pump.

The new consultation will focus on what a public engagement strategy should look like and what barriers people feel must be overcome before they can change how they travel and heat their homes.

 Questions the consultation seeks to answer include:

  • What are the gaps and challenges in public engagement and net zero?
  • What previous interventions on behavioural change generally have been successful? Can lessons be drawn from them?
  • How can the net zero transition be made fair (i.e., with an equitable distribution of related costs and benefits) for all parts of society?
  • What is preventing the public from making net-zero-aligned choices? What can incentivise the public to make net-zero-aligned choices?
  • What lessons can be learned from other countries on public behaviour and net zero?
  • In addition to government action, what else can be done to encourage public behavioural change to meet net zero?

 New public polling and insights from focus groups will support this work.

 Chris Richards, ICE director of policy, said, ‘We know the UK public supports net zero and wants to do what they can to safeguard the planet for future generations. But ICE’s previous work has shown they need politicians to support them early in the transition to net zero. How can politicians help drive a net zero shift in behaviours around how people heat their homes? Get to work? Or reduce their use of electricity? This consultation is an opportunity for professionals to inform recommendations that will help shape how decision-makers support the public to make net zero choices.’ 

 Share your views 

The APPG on Infrastructure and the ICE are seeking evidence and views from infrastructure professionals, civil engineers, environmental groups and other interested stakeholders.

Read the Green Paper.

Submit consultation responses by emailing the ICE policy team.