Green deals will fail without clear message

14th May 2012



Initiatives to reduce energy use will fail unless the government launches a national communications strategy to engage the public. That's the message from a new report from the Green Alliance, which is backed by Asda, Kellog's, PepsiCo and ScottishPower.

According to the report, the success of flagship policies like the green deal, renewable heat incentive (RHI) and roll out of smart meters is at risk because the government is not planning a mass communications campaign similar to the ones recently employed to publicise the digital switchover and Change4Life healthy living initiative.

Rather than mount a high-profile campaign to publicise the green deal, the government plans to rely on communications by those delivering energy schemes. The Green Alliance fears that such a strategy will lack coherence and will not be effective.

“There is a huge risk that the government’s current plans for communications won’t deliver the levels of public engagement and take up needed to make sure that schemes like the Green Deal are a success," says Faye Scott, head of research at the Green Alliance.

"There are clear calls from the businesses and organisations that will be delivering the schemes for strong, trusted national branding to complement their own efforts.”

The Green Alliance says the green deal and RHI, for example, will provide people with valuable practical support to cut their energy use, but that they are missing a vital ingredient, as their communication has not been properly thought through and so they are therefore unlikely to change consumer behaviour.

"There are behavioural barriers to uptake and the track record of demand for energy efficiency measures is low, even when they are being heavily subsidised or given away. So, the availability of new schemes will not automatically result in high levels of uptake," warns the report.

"Co-ordinated communications are needed that are visible, consistent, provide context, are trusted and help to change social norms."

The report, Neither sermons nor silence: the case for national communications on energy, is available to download at the Green Alliance website.


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