Don’t lecture people about their climate change obligations

15th Jun 2020


As a rule of thumb, most Britons hate it when they are told to do something. Especially when it seemingly offers no benefit to them, even more so if those who are doing the telling aren’t obeying their own edicts. Just ask a Mr Cummings.

So when we are told not to have an oil or gas boiler by people who use them in their own home, we cry hypocrisy and rightly so.

And Covid aside, when Government is behind the lecture, then the chances of taking note are lower compared to individuals acting themselves because they want to do the right thing. So it seems is the case with decarbonising heat, if the recent study from Leeds Beckett University (as part of H21) is anything to go by. Their study into consumer perceptions of hydrogen were illuminating, not because they told us something we didn’t already suspect, but they gave that academic rigor to back up these opinions.

So consumers will not take kindly to being told to decarbonise heat but, after being informed of the facts, the majority will do so willingly provided a few concerns are addressed.

Interestingly, one of the biggest concerns was around boiler replacements when methane is switched to hydrogen. Here, the industry already has the solution, with boilers that can easily be converted – under an hour – with little disruption to the consumer. Cookers and gas fires too. No retrofitting required. No need to fit expensive solid wall insulation; no need to dig up the internal floors to fit underfloor heating; no need to redecorate as bigger radiators are fitted. The disruption factor is something policymakers tend to ignore, but the public won’t.

Taking consumers with us on the Net Zero journey is essential if it is to succeed. Lecturing them from Whitehall or from behind an academic lectern, simply won’t work. Listening and working with them will.

Best wishes,

Mike Foster, CEO