A new report investigating the public's views on a range of technologies that may contribute to the UK’s net zero strategy has been published by the British Science Association (BSA).

The report, the second in a series written by the BSA as part of our role in UKRI's Sciencewise programme, is titled People, communities and climate technology and includes analysis of available research on public behaviour change relating to climate change, alongside several climate and energy technologies including smart grids, fusion, and carbon dioxide removal via direct air capture.

By gathering a variety of data on public views around climate technologies, the report aims to further understand the views and values that individuals and communities have about the impacts of mitigating climate change. It identifies knowledge and public engagement gaps that should be addressed by the industry and science more broadly, which will lead to a more just transition to net zero.

Read the People, communities and climate technology report

Cross-cutting themes

On reviewing the research drawn upon in this report, the BSA found some recurring themes:

Trustworthy governance, regulation, security, and safety

The analysis of the available public dialogue indicates that the following criteria are the necessary minimum requirements for public acceptance of a new technology:

  • having clear lines of accountability;
  • regulation in-place at an early-stage;
  • being secure against physical and digital threats; and
  • no adverse impacts on human, animal, or planetary health.

It is therefore imperative that organisations and enterprises hoping to contribute to a more environmentally sustainable future clearly communicate how they meet these requirements in their interactions with consumers, policymakers and investors.

Technology as an unknown quantity or “get out of jail card”

According to the research seen, the public are concerned and fairly well informed about climate change. They are also open to making lifestyle changes that help combat the effects of a changing climate, though are unsure how climate technology might support this. There is also significant scepticism on whether climate technologies will provide the full extent of the solutions promised.

Just transition and community impact

The public are conscious that there will be pros and cons from using climate technologies to tackle the climate crisis, and that there will be communities who ‘lose out’. It is important to the public that plans are established that will alleviate inequity, as well as the opportunity for the public to voice their opinions on what, how and where such technologies are deployed.

Read the full report

The BSA is part of a consortium of organisations delivering Sciencewise, alongside Involve UK, the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE), in partnership with UK Research and Innovation.