Your browser is no longer supported. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Reports & guides | 5 September 2023

Towards a UK public engagement strategy on climate change

We’re calling on the UK government to publish a much-needed and long overdue public engagement strategy. Without an informed and engaged public, ambitious climate policies are in danger of facing public backlash, requiring costly adjustments and wasting valuable time to tackle climate change.

This report defines public engagement, makes four key asks, outlines the vital components for a public engagement strategy to succeed, and includes a number of case studies of successful campaigns delivered by UK councils.

The UK government has world-leading ambitions to reach net zero by 2050, and there is widespread public support for climate action. But the government isn’t involving its citizens nearly enough. And as we’ve seen around the world – and here in the UK recently with the ULEZ expansion to all of London – if people don’t feel part of the design and implementation of climate policies, they will reject them. 

We need a comprehensive public engagement strategy, as called for by the Climate Change Committee and Chris Skidmore’s Net Zero Review.  The UK’s global reputation for climate leadership – and the economic benefits that come with it – are at risk if the government does not prioritise meaningfully involving the public.

This report was produced as part of the UPPER coalition (Unlocking the Potential of Public Engagement to Reach net zero) which includes Climate Outreach, Ashden, Involve and the Climate Citizens Research Group at Lancaster University.

Our partner Involve led on an accompanying report, which provides practical guidance to those developing public engagement strategies and frameworks – for use by governments and more widely.

This work by the UPPER coalition was kindly funded by John Ellerman Foundation and Barrow Cadbury Foundation.

The report was picked up in the media by numerous national outlets including The Independent, Daily Mail, Evening Standard and The Herald, as well as over 100 local papers including the Oxford Mail. It was also the key focus of a piece by BusinessGreen tying in several recent reports all making the conclusion that public engagement is critically important.

Sign up to our newsletter