Consumer acceptance will make or break climate pledge

3rd Feb 2020


Monitoring consumer reactions is key to marketers, as is watching public opinion polls for politicians (those that say they never look at them aren’t telling the truth).

How consumers react to the challenges posed by climate change will make or break the Government’s legally binding targets. So I was struck by the recent report from Citizens Advice, “Zero Sum”. The study looked at what consumer safeguards might be needed for the UK to meet Net Zero so that their interests were protected.

They commissioned some polling, which found unsurprisingly high levels of uncertainty around net zero. Although 82 per cent support the goal to reach net zero by 2050, fewer than four in ten thought they needed to change the way they heat their home and under half realised they would have to switch away from diesel/petrol cars.

This will pose a real challenge when the reality of what is needed kicks in.

It seems, from the polling, that most people are happy to make the changes needed to meet net zero (pinch of salt needed here) – 92 per cent are happy to have more energy efficient homes (I always wonder about why the other 8 per cent don’t); 79 per cent are happy to switch to low carbon heating and 72 per cent to switch to an electric car. Now here’s the rub, and no surprise, they want help to do so – financially and with advice.

Nearly eight in ten who are prepared to make the change say they will need help to do so. Nearly seven in ten said they would find it fairly or very difficult if they had to change their heating system to low carbon.

None of this is a surprise. And it just reinforces what we have been saying for a while. The UK has progressively decarbonised the power sector because the consumer hasn’t had to change anything to do so. Sure, they’ve paid for it in their bills, but they haven’t rewired their homes. Imagine suggesting to them that it was necessary? That’s why utilising the existing infrastructure within the home and leading to the home, is the key to success. Clean gas ticks a number of boxes, but keeping the consumer happy is number one.

Best wishes 

Mike Foster, CEO