By Marcus Leach
Businesses must ensure they do more to give consumers the information they need to make informed choices about buying low-carbon products according to the CBI.
As they launched a new report, Buying into it - making the consumer case for low-carbon, CBI’s director-general John Cridland stressed that a mass market for low-carbon goods is crucial to meeting their ambitious climate change targets.
The report’s survey of nearly 2000 people revealed that 83 per cent of the public believe businesses have a responsibility to inform their customers about energy efficiency. However, only 16 per cent trust manufacturers and an alarmingly low 9 per cent trust retailers.
The CBI has called on the Government to join forces with the businesses to explore new ways of inspiring consumers to ‘go green’, with a focus on clearly highlighting low-carbon products.
“Consumers are often baffled when faced with a variety of low-carbon products on sales, each making different green claims,” Cridland said.
“All too often we find that consumers are something of a Cinderella of the low-carbon economy. Unless we can get the public truly on board, then all the investment in new technology and all our low-carbon innovation for nothing.
“Businesses need to provide clear, consistent labeling that becomes a trusted universal standard with the public. The success of A-G labeling for white goods like fridges and washing machines shows that this kind of approach works.
“It is only when we get significant public buy-in of low-carbon goods that we will make real progress towards our carbon reduction targets.”
According to the CBI report three-quarters of the public do not think about energy efficiency when making the biggest purchases in their lives, a new house, but over 50 per cent do so when buying a fridge - which according to the report shows the success of the A-G white goods labeling system.
With consumers accounting directly and indirectly for almost three quarters of UK carbon emissions, the CBI says a joint business-government taskforce should focus on the following areas to help build a mass market for low-carbon goods:
- Working together to exploit upcoming campaigns, including the roll-out of smart meters and the Green Deal, to build consumer awareness about wider low-carbon choices.
- Delivering better standards and consistent labelling to provide consumers with simple, clear and comparable information to make informed choices on a wider range of products, including DVD players, games consoles and cookers.
- Businesses also need to build trust in their green credentials through the use of common language and symbols
- Manufacturers and retailers working together to ensure that shop floor staff have the training necessary to help customers make greener choices.