CBI: businesses must inspire shoppers to make low-carbon choices

CBI: encourage consumers to go green

CBI: encourage consumers to go green

Businesses must do more to give consumers the information they need to make informed choices about buying low-carbon products, according to the CBI.

Launching a new report today (9 March 2011), Buying into it – making the consumer case for low-carbon, CBI director-general, John Cridland, said creating a mass market for low-carbon goods is crucial to meeting ambitious climate change targets.

A survey of nearly 2,000 people, commissioned for the report, revealed 83% of the public think businesses have a responsibility to tell their customers about energy efficiency, but only 16% trust manufacturers and even fewer trust retailers (9%) to be truthful about it.

The CBI is calling on the Government to join forces with businesses to find new ways of inspiring consumers to go green, including developing clear and standardised labeling for low-carbon products.

John Cridland, CBI director-general, said: “Consumers are often baffled when faced with a variety of low-carbon products on sale, each making different green claims.

“All too often we find 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 will be 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 this kind of approach works.

“It is only when we get significant public buy-in of low-carbon goods we will make real progress towards our carbon reduction targets.”

The CBI report has found three-quarters of the public do not think about energy efficiency when making the biggest purchase of their lives, a new home; but more than half (53%) do think about energy efficiency when buying a fridge. This reflects the success of the A-G white goods labeling system, which provides clear standardised information on the energy efficiency of white goods.

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 labeling 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