Climate change: Big lifestyle changes are the only answer

The UK government must tell the public small, easy changes will not be enough to tackle climate change, warn experts.The government has passed a law obliging the country to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.

Researchers from Imperial College London say we must eat less meat and dairy, swap cars for bikes, take fewer flights, and ditch gas boilers at home. The report has been prepared for the Committee on Climate Change, which advises ministers how to cut the UK’s carbon footprint. It says an upheaval in our lifestyles is the only way to meet targets.

Chris Stark, the Chief Executive of the Committee on Climate Change, tells Panorama the government’s plan for cutting emissions is “not nearly at the level of ambition required”.

The new report, called Behaviour Change, Public Engagement and Net Zero, amounts to an extensive “to-do” list for government. It says subsidies for fossil fuels have to go and taxes on low-carbon technologies must be cut. At the same time, consumers need to be given far more information on the environmental consequences of their actions. It also urges the government to consider introducing a carbon tax, increasing the prices of carbon-intensive products and activities.

It is an ambitious agenda but necessary, the report says, if Britain is to achieve its Net Zero ambitions.