The Consumer Futures Unit of Citizens Advice Scotland has today welcomed the vision for a low-carbon Scotland contained within the Scottish Government’s third Climate Change Plan, but states that consumers must be at the heart of the proposals and policies if it is to be achieved.
Jamie Stewart, the Consumer Futures Unit’s energy spokesperson, said:
“We welcome the Climate Change Plan, setting out the vision for Scotland’s transition to a low-carbon society up to 2032.
“The progress on carbon emission reductions to date has largely been due to changes in electricity generation and industrial processes which has had little direct impact on consumers. As the plan identifies, to achieve further progress requires a substantial change in behaviour amongst individual consumers. This means that the impacts on, and expectations of individuals must be carefully considered and central to proposals and policies. Consumers must be supported to make the necessary step-changes.
“There is increased ambition to reduce domestic heat demand from what was 6% in the draft plan to 15% in the final plan. This will require the new Scottish Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP) to provide a range of incentives to support Scottish consumers to upgrade the energy efficiency of their homes. As our recent research Warming Scotland up to Energy Efficiency highlighted, if SEEP is to be effective and transformational it must secure consumer buy-in.
“To promote energy efficiency measures, we recommend that substantial efforts should be made to lead and transform public opinion on the real benefits of installing energy efficiency measures. The plan recognises that a range of fiscal and financial incentives will also be needed to facilitate the installation of energy efficiency measures in the owner-occupier sector. We found that a new incentive system based upon a level of prompt Council Tax rebate for those homeowners who install energy efficiency upgrades would be, by some margin, the most popular of the incentives we considered.
“As stated in the plan, improving the energy efficiency of Scotland’s building stock can bring about opportunities for cost savings, help to alleviate fuel poverty and minimise the impact of future fuel price rises.
“The Consumer Futures Unit is also soon to publish research that highlights which decarbonisation policies and proposals, set out in the Climate Change Plan, rely most heavily on consumers changing their behaviour; something that is often taken for granted when long term policies are designed. The report will encourage policy makers to design and deliver low-carbon policies around consumers, to ensure that they are successful in cutting emissions whilst also protecting the most vulnerable in our society.