Climate change an important factor in marginal seats, says NEF

By agency reporter
November 30, 2019

New polling finds that 68 per cent of those polled in 45 Labour-held marginal seats being targeted in the North and Midlands consider climate change to be important when deciding who to vote for at the coming general election. The polling carried out by Survation for the New Economics Foundation (NEF) also found that almost 59 per cent of those polled in the 45 seats supported government intervention to create ‘green jobs’ in the energy sector and through home refurbishments in their constituencies.

The polling used a representative sample of over 3000 people in the North and Midlands, including 505 in 45 Labour heartland marginal seats such as Barrow and Furness, Bishop Auckland, Don Valley, Keighley, Sedgefield, Sheffield, Hallam and Workington.

A new report from NEF shows that some areas of the country are disproportionately reliant on clusters of high-carbon industry – the east and West Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber are particularly exposed in England. These have lower levels of GVA per capita and have experienced industrial decline. There are 10 local authorities where ‘climate critical’ jobs – those that are exposed to changes in climate policy and climate change in some way – account for more than 30 per cent of employment. The report outlines a number of concrete ways for the next government to deliver jobs and investment directly to communities on the scale demanded by the climate crisis.

Looking at the entire sample across the whole of the North and the Midlands climate change was considered an important factor in voting at this general election by 70 per cent of people, and specifically by:

  • 76 per cent of those in the east Midlands
  • 69 per cent of those in the West Midlands
  • 67 per cent of those in Yorkshire and The Humber
  • 67 per cent of those in the north-east
  • 71 per cent of those in the north-west

The polling from the entire North and Midlands region also shows that there was majority support in all regions for the creation of green jobs by the government with the highest support in the east Midlands and the north-west at 63 per cent. With West Midlands (56 per cent), Yorkshire and Humber (59 per cent) and north-east (57 per cent) all have support above 55 per cent. Then looking specifically at the polling in the marginal seats, 60 per cent said they support the creation of green jobs in the 17 ultra marginal seats including Ashfield, Barrow and Furness and Keighley.

Further to this at least a third respondents (34 per cent) in the marginal seats said that they would be more likely to vote for a party that promised to create ‘green jobs’ in their constituency. The polling from the sample of over 3000 people across the whole of the north and the midlands shows that the highest support for this was in the north-west (40 per cent), closely followed by the east Midlands (38 per cent), north-east (38 per cent), West Midlands (37 per cent) and Yorkshire and Humber (34 per cent).

The polling from all of the North and Midlands also shows that both leave and remain voters consider climate a key issue at this election with 63 per cent of leave votes and 82 per cent of remain voters saying climate was an important issue in deciding who to vote for at this election. 55 per cent of leave votes and 72 per cent of remain votes also said they would support government intervention in the creation of green jobs.

The polling also illustrates the urgent need for local as well as national solutions to the climate crisis and why a just transition for people and places essential as a fundamental part of a Green New Deal. New work published today from NEF recommends:

  • A localised Just Transition Fund
    Government should be borrowing to invest two per cent of GDP a year to deliver a Green New Deal – half of which should be devolved to create local Just Transition Funds. This should be topped up by redirecting current economic support for fossil fuels as this is phased out. This would be weighted towards regions facing the largest transition risks. It would be designed to support locally led reskilling, trade union and civil society engagement with economic planning, local authority capacity building, mapping of transition needs, and the construction of investment plans.
  • Localised national carbon budgets
    National carbon budgets should be mapped against the needs of regions or localities in a way that reflects the different carbon reduction trajectories of different parts of the UK.
  • A national Green New Deal just transition strategy for the whole of government, and particularly the Treasury, to align around.
  • Enhanced union legislation to enable unions to be able to organise around the environmental sustainability of their workplace and change legislation so they can take part in national and local just transition planning.
  • End to all economic support for high-carbon energy by 2023 at the absolute latest, with support redirected to clean energy as a Just Transition Fund.

David Powell, Head of Environment and Green Transition at the New Economics Foundation said: “This was supposed to be a Brexit election, but it’s rapidly become a climate election. This has been a year of extraordinary awareness and activism on climate breakdown that has changed politics forever. The public not only care, but they are demanding serious action from whoever wins the election – and whoever represents them in the next Parliament.

“At the very core of what climate action means is delivering decent, well paid and unionised jobs in the parts of the country that most need them. Decades of deindustrialisation have resulted from uncaring government policy, which has put the needs of international moneymen over communities and workers. Whoever wins the election must bring in a Green New Deal – a joined up plan for delivering jobs and investment on the scale demanded by the climate crisis directly to the communities that have been abandoned.“

Doug Parr, Policy Director for Greenpeace UK said: “With soggy memories of recent flooding fresh in the minds of many living in the north, job opportunities beckoning from a green economy, and the climate emergency a high priority for most people, it’s hardly surprising that the crisis is going to influence how they will vote.

“Our manifesto ranking, which we have launched today, shines a spotlight on those who have the task of political leadership to address the climate and nature emergencies, and those that are failing to take these existential crises seriously enough.”

* New Economics Foundation https://neweconomics.org/

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