Don’t’ blame the voters

16th Nov 2020

 

There’s an age old adage for politicians, “never blame the voters”, that applies equally to the US as it does in the UK. Okay, some didn’t get the memo, but President Trump aside, it is not a bad way of viewing the ups and downs of political life.

That same outlook should apply to the demands of meeting Net Zero. If we aren’t making progress fast enough, or change isn’t happening to suit your favoured technology, don’t blame the consumer. Last week I read a social media post that suggested consumers need to be better educated in low carbon heating technologies to increase their take up. Now I’m a little uneasy with that sentiment – not because I’m against education but because it smacks of a degree of elitism. Ironically, this sentiment is what propelled Donald Trump into office four years ago – a sense that his political opponents knew what is best for people. He tapped into this, created a fault line of “liberal elites” v “ordinary folk” and won. Arguably the same happened around the Brexit debate in the UK.

If I can offer this bit of advice. If your argument involves educating the consumer or voter to understand your point of view, then you need to go back to the drawing board with your communication strategy.

So if you find consumers not buying a product because they first need better educating, you might not have that sales bonus you first thought was on its way. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, to achieve Net Zero we need to go with the grain of consumer opinion not against it. Future heating technologies need to offer the same benefits as now (or a better experience) if they are to be adopted. Least cost, least disruptive, least change options will always be preferred – that’s basic human instinct. Incumbent technologies will know that and have an advantage (just as incumbent politicians have an advantage). Challengers need to go the extra mile to get heard. And if they don’t succeed, remember it isn’t the fault of the consumer or voter, they don’t need educating, perhaps that argument isn’t a winning one after all.

Mike Foster

EUA's Chief Executive

 

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