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Select committee chair quotes ICE’s challenge to UK government on net zero people power

07 July 2023

The public will play a key role in reaching net zero goals, but the government has yet to detail how it will empower individuals to play their part.

Select committee chair quotes ICE’s challenge to UK government on net zero people power
Energy Security and Net Zero Committee Chair Angus Brendan MacNeil referred to the ICE’s recommendations on achieving net zero. Image credit: UK Parliament (licensed under CC BY 3.0.)

During a recent UK parliamentary question session, Angus Brendan MacNeil MP quizzed Energy Security and Net Zero Minister Graham Stuart MP on public engagement on net zero.

The government’s net zero growth plan says the public will play a “key role” in reducing carbon emissions. But the government has yet to outline how it will meet people’s growing urge to act.

MacNeil cited the ICE’s challenge to the UK government to publish detailed measures for empowering individuals to play their part.

What did he say?

MacNeil asked:

“On decarbonisation, many organisations, such as the Institution of Civil Engineers, are asking about the government’s net zero growth plan, which said:

“‘The public will play a key role in the transition and therefore we will set out further detail on how government will increase public engagement on net zero.’

“Can the Minister clarify when that detail will be published?”

Stuart agreed that “as well as top-down government policy, we must unlock the huge public desire of people to play their part and make sure we have the right information in place.”

He added: “That will be provided and produced as soon as possible.”


Energy security and net zero questions to ministers took place on 4 July 2023.

Why this matters

Public engagement is the missing part of the net zero puzzle.

The UK Climate Change Committee has warned that progress towards net zero is slowing. Its latest report stressed that the government needs to broaden its focus from just technological solutions to shifting public behaviours and demand.

ICE research shows that the public wants to act, but needs support to make certain changes. In our 2020 State of the Nation report, we called on the government to deliver a “net-zero education and awareness-raising campaign for infrastructure and the built environment”.

The ICE has recommended a “shift in narrative” – using evidence to invite the public to contribute to the net zero transition, rather than imposing it upon them.

The government committed to this in its net zero growth plan, and the secretary of state’s comments reaffirm this commitment.

But to date, the UK government has yet to offer any detail.

The ICE calls on the government to urgently deliver a plan to unlock the huge public support for net zero.

Alongside the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Infrastructure (APPGI), the ICE will soon begin a programme looking at net zero infrastructure and public behaviour, to help inform positive policy change.

  • Ben Gosling, speechwriter and policy content manager at ICE