“Houston, we have a problem.”

18th Mar 2024


These words are immortalised in the film Apollo 13, based on the true story of that mission and have been used ever since to warn of impending failure.

I want to stress the word “warn” not “failure”. Because the warning, when given in a timely manner, allows corrections to be made and in their case, the safe return home.

The other week, to no fanfare, DESNZ published their quarterly attitude tracker. I understand their reluctance to highlight the results. It gives fuel to net zero sceptics. But to the rest of us, it is a warning, we have a problem. If we don’t listen to that warning, then our mission will be a failure.

The good news is that 89 per cent of those questioned are aware of net zero and that has been a consistent figure since the tracker was first published. So, the base is there. Asked how concerned they are, the figures are fairly stable, in the region 85 – 80 per cent, but the latest tracker does suggest that those identifying themselves as “very concerned” has fallen to 37 per cent, its lowest level.

When asked about the impact of the transition to net zero for the UK economy, in the short-term negative won over positive, by a margin of 37 per cent to 21 per cent. In the long term, that outcome was reversed, 52 per cent positive against 18 per cent negative.

The warning bells now start to ring, when asked about the impact of the transition on living costs. By a massive ten to one, 69 per cent v 7 per cent, in the short-term costs are expected to be higher. In the long run, that margin is two to one, 48 per cent v 25 per cent. So, Houston, we have a problem.

If living standards do not rise and the economy does not grow, then the concern over the cost of transition to net zero will put the mission in jeopardy. Individuals will look at their own circumstances and decide whether to support future measures or not. If they see others benefitting but not them; or they have to pay for others to unfairly benefit, then our mission won’t end in the successful landing we want.

Mike Foster

EUA's Chief Executive


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