According a survey conducted by independent Conservative thinktank, Bright Blue, an “overwhelming majority” of Conservative voters support “maintaining or strengthening” all of the main EU environmental regulations after Brexit.
Bright Blue’s report finds that a majority of Conservative voters are concerned about – and support government action to deal with – the natural environment and manmade climate change.
The report reveals that Conservatives want to either maintain or strengthen the main current EU environmental regulations after Brexit, including a majority of Conservatives that voted to Leave.
The proportion of Conservatives that reported they want to strengthen or maintain certain regulations are as follows:
- Protections for habitats and wildlife (93%)
- Air pollution reduction targets (92%)
- Household waste recycling targets (91%)
- Renewable energy generation targets (85%)
- Regulations to increase energy efficiency of household appliances (85%)
- Restrictions on use of pesticides and fertilisers in agriculture (85%)
- Fishing quotas (64%)
- A ban on production of GM crops (63%).
The majority of Conservatives surveyed believe in manmade climate change. Most Conservatives (60%) accept the clear scientific consensus that manmade climate change is happening.
They are also very supportive of renewable energy, according to Bright Blue. The most popular energy sources for electricity generation among Conservatives were all renewable, ahead of nuclear and ahead of fossil fuels. Of all environmental issues, increasing renewable energy generation was most important for Conservatives (53% ranked it among their top three).
“There is a clear mandate from its own voters for the Conservative Government to adopt a more ambitious, conservative agenda on the environment.”
Polling shows Conservatives support policies to phase out coal from electricity generation (66%), to mandate that all homes being sold meet a minimum energy performance standard (70%) and to tighten regulations on new diesel engines (74%).
Only two in five Conservatives are concerned about air pollution in their local area, although this becomes a majority in places such as London where the problem is particularly acute 56%. Conservatives support increasing the current EU air pollution reduction targets after Brexit (54%).
Commenting, Sam Hall, senior researcher at Bright Blue, said: “Conservatives want a green Brexit. Although there are a handful of prominent Conservatives who are sceptical about environmental challenges and policies, the mainstream of Conservative voters, including most of those that voted to Leave, in fact do not support scaling back current EU environmental regulations. As Parliament debates the Great Repeal Bill, there is no mandate from Conservatives to dilute current environmental regulations.
“Most Conservatives do care about climate change and the natural environment. They support ambitious environmental policies, including closing Britain’s remaining coal-fired power stations to introducing new low-emission zones in air pollution hotspots. There is a clear mandate from its own voters for the Conservative Government to adopt a more ambitious, conservative agenda on the environment.”