A poll carried out by Onward, a think tank close to the party, has found much stronger support for sticking to the 2050 policy than abandoning it, even as the economic clouds darken.
They want to slam the brakes on CO2-cutting moves to replace gas boilers and insulate homes – which have already been condemned as feeble by many experts.
But Will Tanner, Onward’s director and a former No 10 adviser to Theresa May, said its research showed voters will “punish any party” that reneges on the landmark net zero pledge.
It found that two in every five people who voted Conservative at the 2019 general election would be less likely to back the party again if it abandons its commitment to reach net zero by 2050.
Only 18 per cent of former Conservative voters said they would return to the party after such a U-turn – which would cost the Tories up to 1.3 million voters, the think tank estimated.
And support for net zero is higher among northern Conservative voters than southern Tories, suggesting many of the crucial Red Wall seats snatched in 2019 would be put at risk.
“It is not only untrue to say that the Conservative party’s electoral prospects are undermined by a commitment to net zero, but the opposite of reality,” Mr Tanner said.
“Voters overwhelmingly back action to protect the environment, support the deadline that parliament introduced … and will punish any party that reneges on those promises.
“This is as true, or truer, for the Conservative party’s new coalition as for its old guard.”
Mr Johnson has insisted he will not scrap green levies on energy bills, to pay for clean energy investments, after briefing that the move is being considered.
The poll also found that 55 per cent of all voters believe the war in Ukraine is a reason to press ahead with net zero targets, while just 28 per cent want the UK to slow down.
Overall, almost two-thirds of voters support net zero policies while just 9 per cent oppose them – and 58 per cent agreed that “even if it’s going to be expensive, we need to stop damaging the environment”.
Rachel Wolf, founder of Public First, which carried out the poll, said: “It is striking that, even in the midst of a terrifying cost-of-living squeeze, voters from different social backgrounds want politicians to stay the course on green policies.”