A people-centred approach is needed to meet net zero goals

Caroline Verfuerth, Christina Demski, Stuart Capstick, Lorraine Whitmarsh, Wouter Poortinga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (SciVal)


To meet net zero goals, more drastic action is needed than is acknowledged by most policymakers, posing a major social challenge that will impact many aspects of people’s lives. This paper emphasises the importance of a people-centred approach for policy makers to achieve net zero effectively and rapidly while being alert to citizens’ needs and concerns. We advocate a comprehensive and inclusive public engagement strategy, discussing insights on four key questions to guide policymakers in developing successful engagement strategies. (1) How do climate-friendly social transformations happen?, (2) How can behavioural change for net zero be supported? (3) How can people be involved in decision-making on net zero?, and (4) How does climate change intersect with other societal challenges? We conclude with clear policy recommendations: government leadership at all levels (national, devolved, local), underpinned by a public engagement strategy for net zero, is needed in addition to fair and consistent policies that are transparent about the scale of action needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-124
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of The British Academy
Issue numberS4
Early online date28 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2023


  • behaviour change
  • government
  • People-centred approach
  • public engagement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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