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Abandoning net zero could cost the Tories 1.3 million votes

Abandoning environmental commitments could cost the Tories 1.3 million votes, a think tank has warned.

A poll carried out on behalf of the centre-right think tank Onward found that two in five people who voted for the Conservatives in 2019 would be less likely to vote for the party again if it abandoned its pledge to reach zero net by 2050.

Support for net zero was higher among conservative voters in the north than among conservatives in the south, which Onward said meant abandoning the policy could cost the party many of the red-wall seats it won in 2019.

While only 18% of former Tory voters said they would return to the party if it abandoned its net-zero targets, Onward estimated such a move would see up to 1.3 million voters drop out of the Tories.

Will Tanner, director of Onward and former Downing Street adviser to Theresa May, said: ‘It is not only wrong to say that the Conservative Party’s electoral prospects are being undermined by a net-zero pledge, but the opposite of the reality .

“Voters overwhelmingly support environmental protections, support the deadline Parliament introduced in 2019 and will punish any party that reneges on these promises. This is as true, if not more true, for the new coalition of the Conservative Party than for its old guard.

The findings come after Boris Johnson appeared to berate members of his own party who have been pushing for the UK to dilute its commitments to net zero in the face of the cost of living crisis.

(PA graphics)

During his trip to India, the Prime Minister said he wanted to do everything possible to “reduce the cost of living”, but added that it was “very important to understand” that there are “many prejudice against the green agenda”.

The poll also found that 55% of voters thought the war in Ukraine was a reason to move forward with net zero targets, compared to just 28% who thought the UK should slow down.

Overall, nearly two-thirds of voters support net zero policies while only 9% oppose them, and 58% of voters agreed that “even though it’s going to be expensive, we need to stop harming the world.” ‘environment”.

Rachel Wolf, co-author of the 2019 Conservative Manifesto and founder of Public First, which conducted the poll, said: “The public wants clean energy that we can control. Far from undermining this support, the rising cost of living and the Ukrainian crisis have cemented it.

“It is striking that, even amid terrifying pressure on the cost of living, voters from different social backgrounds want politicians to stay the course on green policies.”