A people-centred approach is needed to meet net zero goals

by Caroline Verfuerth, Christina Demski, Stuart Capstick, Lorraine Whitmarsh and Wouter Poortinga

28 Sep 2023
Journal of the British Academy
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Abstract: To meet net zero goals, more drastic action is needed than is acknowledged by most policymakers, posing a major social challenge that will impact many aspects of people’s lives. This paper emphasises the importance of a people-centred approach for policy makers to achieve net zero effectively and rapidly while being alert to citizens’ needs and concerns. We advocate a comprehensive and inclusive public engagement strategy, discussing insights on four key questions to guide policymakers in developing successful engagement strategies. (1) How do climate-friendly social transformations happen?, (2) How can behavioural change for net zero be supported? (3) How can people be involved in decision-making on net zero?, and (4) How does climate change intersect with other societal challenges? We conclude with clear policy recommendations: government leadership at all levels (national, devolved, local), underpinned by a public engagement strategy for net zero, is needed in addition to fair and consistent policies that are transparent about the scale of action needed.

Keywords: People-centred approach, public engagement, behaviour change, government

Article posted to the Journal of the British Academy, volume 11, supplementary issue 4 (Governance Factors on the Road to Net Zero)

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