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Government policy needs to influence consumer behaviour on climate change

29 May 2018

Sam Ghibaldan responds on behalf of CAS to the Scottish Government's Climate Change bill

(This article was published in the Sunday Herald on 26 May 2018).

 

While the new carbon emissions reduction target of 90% by 2050 has been criticised, the associated interim targets are amongst the most ambitious in the world. They are a challenge to individuals, businesses and government.

Our research shows that 73%of Scots agree on the need to tackle climate change. Crucially however, they don’t see cutting domestic energy use as an important factor in achieving this.  Therefore if the government’s targets are going to be met, more must be done to communicate to people why their choices, and their use of energy, matter.

Carbon efficient homes and lifestyles should become something people aspire to have, rather than be told to pay for. And taking the practical steps needed to cut emissions must be made easy for them. That means government policies must be designed around consumers.

A good example is the efforts people will need to make to ensure their homes are more energy efficient. Many of Scotland’s privately owned houses remain poorly insulated – 61% are rated below EPC band C.  In the past upgrading the energy efficiency of their homes has required consumers to navigate their way through a series of complex issues, from choosing suppliers to accessing finance schemes. Our research identified that only by simplifying this process can we hope to maximise the number of energy efficient homes. We’ve called for a one-stop shop, so households can approach one, trustworthy organisation which will do everything that’s required.

The cost of home upgrades is also a practical barrier for many. While energy efficiency measures may lead to lower energy bills in the long run, many households simply won’t be able to afford the upfront costs. It is important that low income and vulnerable families are given the appropriate support to make the required changes.

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