Britons are concerned about the hypocrisy of politicians and how it will affect their willingness to change their behaviour to address climate crisis.
These opinions come from the Net Zero Diaries, which is a project of Britain Thinks. It examines changing attitudes to the pursuit and attainment of net zero emission targets. This is the first compilation of public views from the cohort of people since the Cop26 summit on climate change in Glasgow.
The focus group project was 40 people who kept journals of news events and their daily climate encounters and listened to a variety of experts. Many people felt excited and hopeful after the conference.
The extensive coverage of Cop26 made it seem like Cop26 was a success, according to researchers who examined the diaries.
However, even those who claimed to have a strong interest for the environment could not name specific details on what had been agreed upon on issues like coal and deforestation.
Much was made of the difference between aid for the poor and aid for the richer nations. One commentator called the outcome mean-spirited because the developed world had made promises of support but failed to fulfill them.
Two key moments stood out to diarists throughout the conference: Joe Biden, the US president, appearing to fall asleep during a discussion and Boris Johnson flying from the US to London after the summit opened.
One said that it didn’t get people involved if they fell asleep during it. Boris Johnson was hypocritical in flying by plane between these events. Another pointed out that he could have used technology or travelled by an electric car.
Some diarists felt that these moments diminished the importance of Cop26 and fuelled diarists concerns about the fact that powerful global leaders aren’t taking the issue seriously.
Participants were also skeptical about the validity of some agreements and their ability to hold true. One diarist said that none of the agreements are legally binding, and that they are merely vague statements. These agreements did not cover the main points and were not signed by the countries most responsible.
Participants were given an article about the conference to read. Most participants noticed that commitments are self-policing. They expressed concern that they might not be upheld. Those who were more involved pointed out the fallout of the Paris summit commitments.
The global commitment to end and reverse the deforestation was the most well-known and well-understood. It included commitments by leaders such as Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro.
The land-clearing of forest contributes nearly 25% to greenhouse gas emissions. Clearances are also granted for the growth of agricultural products such soy, palm oil, and beef. Many diarists stated that the pledge was credible because it was specifically linked to the climate crisis and was backed up by a multibillion-dollar finance package.
The research was conducted by Ovo, Citizens Advice and WWF. Lancaster University also commissioned the research. Diarists were recruited to reflect different views on climate. They ranged from active activists to regular consumers to low-engagement regulars.