A new opinion poll has revealed that 27 per cent of Conservative voters would be less likely to back the party again if the government weakened the UK’s net zero target.
In comparison, 16 per cent of Conservative voters said they would be more likely to vote Conservative. Overall, the Conservative party stands to lose a net 11 per cent of its 2019 vote - over 1.5 million votes - if they weakened net zero.
Of those who would consider voting Conservative at the next election, 31 per cent said they would be less likely to back the party. At the same time, 16 per cent would be more likely to vote Conservative.
However, the Conservative Environment Network, which commissioned the opinion poll, warned the electoral consequences would likely be far worse for the party if it scaled back its climate change commitments.
In Red Wall constituencies, 34 per cent of all voters would be less likely to vote Conservative if net zero was weakened. Only 16 per cent would be more likely to.
Sixty-seven per cent of Conservative voters said they would be likely to back the party again if they saw a headline saying the “Conservatives commit to keeping net zero targets”. Whereas, 25 per cent said it made no difference, and 8 per cent said they would be less likely.
While sixty per cent of Conservative voters said that climate change would be an important consideration in deciding how they vote at the next election. Only 18 per cent said it would be unimportant.
Lord Howard, former leader of the Conservative Party, commented: “Tackling climate change is completely aligned with conservative values. We want to preserve our natural heritage so we can pass it on to future generations. That’s why so many of our party’s voters are committed to decarbonising our economy.
“Achieving net zero is not only critical to avoiding the worst consequences of climate change, but for the UK’s national security and future economic prosperity. There would be no political or economic reward for letting the UK fall behind in the global race for net zero and continuing our dependence on oil and gas imports.
“The Conservatives must continue to lead the UK's net zero push in a fair, market-led way, which offers taxpayers value for money and creates jobs across the country."
Sam Hall, Director of the Conservative Environment Network, commented: “As this opinion polling shows, Conservative voters overwhelmingly support net zero. If the government listened to a small number of sceptics, as well as the significant geopolitical, environmental, and economic consequences, it is clear there would be stark electoral consequences for the party from ditching its green commitments.
“If net zero was weakened, the party would jeopardise not only its previous supporters but potential voters too. Those considering voting Conservative - who may be key to the next election - are even less likely than its voters from 2019 to back the party if climate commitments were scaled back.
“In the Red Wall, the party could deter a significant number of voters from backing it by ditching net zero. This is in addition to the potential investment in wind, hydrogen and carbon capture which would be put at risk by scaling back climate ambition.
“Net zero promises jobs and new industries, and reinforces the government’s levelling up agenda. It’s no surprise there could be a high electoral price to pay by weakening it.”