Two-thirds of UK consumers want more carbon labels

Two-thirds of consumers across the UK, France and Germany would like to see a recognisable carbon footprint label on products, according to a new survey carried out for the Carbon Trust.

The study of over 5,000 consumers across Europe’s three largest economies, which was spearheaded by YouGov in the run up to this year’s international climate change negotiations in Marrakech, found that 56 per cent of UK consumers would feel more positive about a company that has reduced the carbon footprint of their products.

France and Germany would also feel better about firms that want to bring down their carbon output, with 75 and 50 per cent expressing this in the survey respectively.

Despite the positive sentiments much of the surveys results, it did highlight an apparent value-action gap, which indicates that although a majority of consumers express that it is a good idea to use a carbon footprint label, just over half admit that they do not generally think about a product’s carbon footprint when making purchasing decisions.

However the report also points out that approximately one in five shoppers in the UK, France and Germany that do consider climate change impact when making purchasing decisions. Furthermore, 37 per cent say that it is important for them to know that businesses they buy from are taking action to reduce the carbon footprint of their products.

Darran Messem, Managing Director of Certification at the Carbon Trust, believes that it is possible that people are seeing a ‘Paris Effect’ after the success of securing a global agreement on climate change last year.

“Businesses that communicate their achievements in reducing emissions can secure a reputational advantage over competitors,” he said.

“It seems we are reaching a tipping point. The demand for sustainable products is there in principle and actively green consumer behaviour is following in its wake. And this is not just happening in Europe.

“For example at the Carbon Trust we are actively working with the Chinese government on a major new scheme to enable greener purchasing behaviour, with a pilot taking place in Guangdong, which is an economic powerhouse of a province with a population of over 100 million.

“We now have a binding global deal on climate change and consumer attitudes are shifting, which will create opportunities for companies with more sustainable products. Businesses need to be aware of the risks and opportunities that this will create.

“Environmental impact is increasingly a criteria for competition, alongside price and quality. Stronger regulation and changing consumer demand is a powerful combination, businesses that take early action and build sustainability into their brand will reap the rewards.”

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