Consumers need more support in journey to net zero, says Energy Consumers Commission



Concern around climate change has never been higher, but consumers need more information on the steps they need to take to reduce emissions, a new briefing from the Energy Consumers Commission released today warns.

The Commission found that consumers are making low impact ‘social norm’ type changes to their behaviour, such as the recycling of domestic waste, but there is less evidence of high impact changes such as the adoption of heat pumps or electric vehicles.

The organisation said that people need more information and understanding around how low carbon heating systems work and the scale of the challenge around decarbonisation. Upfront costs are often cited as the main barrier to engagement with low-carbon technology, particularly in domestic heating and transport.

The Commission warns that tenants, low-income households and remote and island communities are particularly at risk of an unfair transition, and recommends better communication around the benefits of smart meters, which can be a first step towards further energy technologies.

Lewis Shand Smith, chair of the Energy Consumers Commission, said: “With COP26 still clear in our memory, support for tackling climate change has never been higher in the public consciousness, but consumers remain unsure of what the impact will be on their everyday lives.

“People are taking steps towards doing their bit, but they are often relatively low impact changes such as recycling. In reality we will need much larger use of low-carbon heating in people’s homes if we are to meet net zero emissions by 2045, but consumers are uncertain about what that means for them, citing concerns over upfront costs as a serious barrier to engagement.

“A good first step in improving this engagement is to accelerate the roll out and better communicate the positive effects of smart meters. These can be the first step consumers take on their own personal journey to more energy efficient heating in their homes.”

The independent Energy Consumers Commission consists of representatives with a wealth of experience in national consumer advocacy and advice bodies, academia and local groups serving energy consumers in their communities.

Membership of the Commission is as follows;

  • Lewis Shand Smith (chair)
  • Kate Morrison, Citizens Advice Scotland
  • Lucy Gillie, South Seeds
  • Suzy Goodsir, Greener Kirkcaldy
  • Carol Masheter, Soirbheas
  • Dan van der Horst, University of Edinburgh
  • Frazer Scott, Energy Action Scotland
  • Robert Leslie, Thaw Orkney


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