Is the consumer really considered?

30th Oct 2023


I don’t think it is just me, but I fear the voice of the consumer is increasingly ignored as “inconvenient” when it comes to our transition to net zero.

It’s a huge mistake by the way, as they need to be front and centre. The problem is that many people claiming to be on the side of the consumer haven’t really consulted them; they have fallen into the trap of believing they know what’s best for the consumer. This is a mistake on steroids.

When Parliament set up a Citizen’s Assembly to examine home heating, the ‘informed citizens’ of the Assembly supported all three options – heat pumps, heat networks and hydrogen boilers. That should have been the green light to move ahead with all three options. Instead, those who think they know best chose the first two and dismissed the third. Hardly listening is it!

Yet the consumer will make or break net zero. And frankly, that is just too inconvenient for some. Those sitting on Commissions, whilst signalling the importance of consumers issue a decree that one option is off the menu, so don’t ask for it. That regulation trumps choice. They know best, so get over it.

It simply is not acceptable.

We asked 2000 households about their support for net zero and 71 per cent said it was important. That’s great and we should look to keep that level of support. We also asked whether they supported the development of low carbon gas boilers that can be swapped for their existing appliances and this was supported by a margin of seven to one. Are these consumers now wrong? Or do we accept that their opinion really is of value? They are giving policy makers a mandate to work towards net zero and an opinion of what they will support. In any normal sphere, we would welcome this stance; embrace it and use it to justify action.