Hardly a day passes without a pronouncement from a government minister or other public figure on our need to cut carbon emissions. We’ve had initiatives aplenty in recent months, and the UK is fully signed up to the international drive to tackle global warming.
But it seems to me that a very important audience continues to be overlooked in all this: that’s us, the consumer. We are being talked at about why we should go green, but very few are talking with us about how.
My problem with this comes in two parts. Firstly, if going green is so very important, where are the incentives to get us there? Affordability is so obviously a barrier to widespread adoption of greener ways of doing things so, that we need a clear framework of grants to drive up-take if we’re serious about cutting our carbon emissions.
Why isn’t this even on the agenda? After all, it’s not as if the great British public is unreceptive: opinion polls consistently show a majority of consumers want to be greener, but are deterred by up-front costs and vagueness on the benefits.
Which brings me to my second point: the case for going green needs to be much more coherently put. Though the environmental benefits are enormous, it doesn’t stop there: cutting CO2 emissions could in the long term save us cash, create new industries, jobs and markets – and give us a better quality of life in the process.
It’s about time we shared the vision. The question is: are our leaders up to the job?
• Originally published in GreenerLiving magazine in August 2009