The UK's ability to meet challenging emissions targets is being threatened by the failure to persuade mainstream consumers to adopt lower-carbon lifestyles, warns a new report by ippr. The new report, 'Consumer Power: How the public thinks lower-carbon behaviour could be made mainstream', finds that climate change-related communications, products and policies are leaving most people unengaged and switched off. Based on workshops, observations of home energy assessments and interviews with mainstream consumers across the UK, ippr's research finds people are: � tired and bored of hearing about climate change despite being aware of it; � cynical about the Government's motives in pushing for action on climate, viewing it as a means of increasing taxation or as being hypocritical in light of recent decisions such as allowing the building of the third runway at Heathrow; � doubtful about the effectiveness of adopting lower-carbon behaviours when other people, companies and countries are still emitting elsewhere; � resentful of being made to feel guilty about their lifestyles; � dismissive of environmentalists and 'green' products as 'smug' and 'self-righteous'; and � put off by the cost of choosing lower-carbon options. The report argues that a new approach by government, business and campaigners is needed if mainstream consumers and not just the environmentally inclined are to adopt lower-carbon lifestyles. It shows that mainstream consumers would be far more likely to change their behaviour and use less energy on the basis that it would save them money, give them greater control over their energy bills and greater independence from energy companies, rather than on the basis that it would prevent climate change. The research also underlines the importance of ensuring lower-carbon products and services are provided that are attractive and desirable, as all too frequently poor aesthetics acts as a barrier to adoption. At the same time, consumers want to feel that lower-carbon options are 'normal' for people like them and want to hear about them from figures in the public eye who they trust and associate as peers, like Tess Daly and Vernon Kay, rather than environmentalists or aloof A-list celebrities. Simon Retallack, Associate Director and Head of Climate Change at ippr said: "Our research suggests that it is possible to engage far more people than the environmental pioneers in adopting lower-carbon behaviours. The time is ripe to take this message beyond the 'usual suspects'. "Success will lie in convincing consumers that in adopting lower-carbon lifestyles they can have save money and have control in a chaotic world, and they can do the right thing and look good without being an environmentalist. If we can achieve that, while putting the policies in place to ensure that lower-carbon options are affordable, attractive and visible, we will have gone a long way towards mobilising the power of consumers in the battle against climate change."


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