Councillor attitudes to net zero and the climate crisis

Written by

James Wood


Over the past year, BECG has commissioned a range of climate-focused polling to understand the attitudes of elected councillors, MPs and the public about the climate emergency and how the built environment sector can be part of the UK’s response. 

Our latest report focuses on the attitudes of local councillors towards net zero and the government’s approach to climate change.  It is taken from a representative sample of more than 400 councillors from across all parties in England. 

The key findings include:

  1. Councillors’ understanding of key climate terms is mixed

70% of councillors say they have a good understanding of the term ‘net zero’ but other terms such as ‘green carbon’ are less widely understood. 

  1. Climate change is a top priority for councillors in making planning decisions

89% of councillors place sustainability and the environment at the top of their list when making planning decisions, on par with traffic and highway safety. 

  1. Some sustainability measures are more important to councillors than others

Councillors see sustainable transport connections, efficient insulation and use of natural light as by far the most important sustainability measures in planning – well above biodiversity, solar panels or electric vehicle charging points. 

  1. Councillors doubt some elements of the Government ten point plan for a green recovery 

Only 20% of councillors believe the government will achieve its aim of installing 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028. 

  1. Councillors generally support onshore renewable energy projects

Over 80% of councillors say they support the development of local onshore renewable projects in their area, although this figure drops to 67% among Conservative councillors.  

  1. Councillors view climate change targets with an element of scepticism 

Only 45% of councillors believe their own local authority is on course to meet their net zero targets, while just 30% believe the UK as a whole will meet its 2050 target. 

With around 75% of all local authorities in the UK now having declared a climate emergency, it has never been more important to understand how the climate agenda could affect the way investment into our built environment is perceived by decision-makers. 



Download our free report 


If you wish to talk more about net zero and its impact on the built environment sector, please get in touch.


Please complete the form below to receive the latest news, events and information from Cavendish.


Make your voice
make a difference.