“I wonder, if we are to tackle climate change, do we need to be a bit more honest about the changes that are coming?” asked breakfast show host Aasmah Mir.
“This isn’t just about boilers and electric cars, it’s possibly about tax rises too, which you may be planning”.
Side-stepping the issue of taxes, Kwarteng replied: “I actually see a massive economic opportunity from decarbonisation.”
He then added: “There are challenges in terms of people changing their lifestyle, but that’s happening already without government legislation.
“The number of people who are vegans, who are reducing their meat intake, is going up all the time.
“I think there’s a lot of societal change that will actually help us and drive the progress to 2035 when hopefully we will hit the 78 per cent reduction targets.”
This week, new research from the WWF found there was a 25 per cent increase in people adopting plant-based diets between February 2019 and October 2020.
But Dr Chris West, one of the researchers based at the Stockholm Environment Institute, University of York, said both individuals and governments would need to take action to bring down carbon emissions.
“Meeting our climate targets will require a combination of small and big changes, such as maintaining a reduction in international travel, which is needed to bring down personal footprints,” said West.
“Changing consumer behaviours are a very important component of moving towards a low-carbon future, but these must also be complemented by a rapid transition towards renewable energy and a circular economy.”