Have lockdown parties harmed Net Zero?

24th Jul 2023

 

I have been struck recently by evidence suggesting that our trust in the establishment has been harmed by the re-emergence of news surrounding COVID lockdown parties.

Ignoring the individuals allegedly involved, it is increasingly clear that while some of us grappled with keeping staff safe while minimising the impact on our work; obeying rules around safe-distancing and working with officials on “essential worker” advice, some took liberties with the rules.

As the COVID inquiry brings back painful memories for many, the impression has been created that there was “one rule for them and another for us”. That’s dangerous. It creates a degree of mistrust in authority that might harm how we respond to another health scare. But does it also make it more difficult to accept the words of those in authority when it comes to other, non-COVID matters?

When senior public figures tell us to switch to EVs and away from the internal combustion engine, while they admit to driving a diesel car, how does that make you feel? When advocates of heat pumps admit to having a new gas boiler fitted because they couldn’t afford it, but expect others to, what does that say to the public? Or when an energy supplier tells its customers how awful gas is but continue to sell it themselves, what message of trust does that convey?

Getting to Net Zero is going to impact massively on the public, both financially and behaviourally. Yes, it will mean sacrifices as well as opportunities. So having trust in those with authority be that politicians, civil servants or business leaders, is important to the public. Lockdown parties for some, while the majority made the sacrifices and obeyed the rules, will have left a sour taste. If that transfers over to Net Zero it will make the challenge even more difficult. Those COVID lockdown parties may yet leave a long-lasting legacy.

 

Mike Foster

EUA's Chief Executive

 

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