Press release:

OVER 20 MILLION HOUSEHOLDS ARE CONCERNED BY CLIMATE CHANGE BUT ONLY EIGHT MILLION ARE PREPARED TO FUND THE FIGHT AGAINST IT

  • Over 20 million households (74%) across the country are concerned about climate change[1], but less than a third (31%) are willing to pay for the infrastructure the UK needs to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050[2]
  • Those who are prepared to pay would be willing to contribute £38 per month on average[3]
  • On the other hand, nearly half of households in the UK (44%) are considering purchasing an electric car in the next five years[4]
  • Greener lifestyles are also now more common as 68% of households say they recycle regularly[5] and 85% say they use less energy at home[6]
  • Over half (53%) have switched or are considering switching to a green energy supplier[7], which could save them up to £333[8].
  • At a time of intense focus on environmental issues amid growing calls to change the way we live, over 20 million households (74%) across the UK are concerned about the impact of climate change[1], with a quarter (25%) more conscious about its effects than ever before[9], according to new research from uSwitch.com, the price comparison and switching service.

    However, of those who are anxious about the future of our planet, only a third (31%) would be happy to foot the bill for the infrastructure the UK needs to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 – contributing an average of just under £38 a month each, or £454 annually[3]. The preferred methods of payment include an additional fee on their monthly energy bill (12%) and additional monthly taxes (10%)[10].

    On the other hand, over half (53%) are unwilling to contribute directly, and believe responsibility for paying for the technology to reduce emissions should sit with energy companies (31%) or the Government (22%)[10].

    Amongst 18-34 year olds, who are most likely to suffer from the consequences of climate change later down the line, the average annual sum rises to £737[3]. It is perhaps no surprise that those in the London region, which experiences some of the worst air pollution in the country, are prepared to pay over £1,000 per year, while those in the South East would only pay £204[3].

    However, one thing consumers do seem prepared to shell out for is electric vehicles, which are experiencing a surge in popularity. Nearly half (44%) of those who don’t have an electric car say they are considering buying one in the next five years[4], coming on top of a 158% increase in battery electric vehicle sales when compared to July 2018[11].

    But many people are still unsure about swapping the internal combustion engine for a battery on wheels. The biggest barriers include the cost of buying the vehicle (35%), concerns over battery life (33%) and a lack of confidence in the charging infrastructure around the country (31%) and at home (31%)[12]. This is despite the Government’s recent pledge to contribute an extra £2.5 million for charging points on residential streets, suggesting that greater consumer awareness is needed before we’re all ready to turn our backs on petrol and diesel forever[11].

    Elsewhere though, people are already taking small steps to be more ‘green-minded’ in their day to day lives: the majority of consumers say they have embraced environmentally friendly habits such as recycling (68%) and bringing a reusable bag when they shop (64%)[5]. 38% say they have ditched the use of plastic straws, a third (33%) are trying different modes of transport to avoid driving and over one in ten (12%) are attempting to reduce their air miles[5].

    Nearly four in five (85%) have also made a conscious effort to use less energy around the home, unplugging devices and turning off lights when not in use (55%), using LED or energy efficient light bulbs (52%) and washing clothes at a lower temperature (47%)[6]. Costlier options are, perhaps unsurprisingly, less popular however. While a reasonable one in five (21%) have insulated their homes, fewer than one in ten (6%) say they have invested in solar panels to generate their own renewable electricity[6].

    People are more enthusiastic if they also feel there’s a financial benefit to themselves. Over half (53%) have switched or are considering switching to a green energy supplier[7], citing a desire to reduce their impact on the environment (42%) and on future generations (35%)[13]. People are also incentivised by the fact that renewable energy tariffs are now as cheap as other plans (31%) and the fact that there are more deals to choose from (29%)[13].

    Indeed, three of the cheapest 10 tariffs currently available are eco-friendly, and cost as much as £333 less than the price cap on standard variable tariffs[8]. However, one in six (16%) who haven’t switched are still deterred from going green due to the belief that renewable energy is too expensive[14].

    Rik Smith, energy expert at uSwitch.com, says: “With the intense media interest in climate change, people across Britain are starting to look at the changes they can make to their own lives. But there is more hesitation when it comes to paying for the technology which is going to drive down greenhouse gas emissions.

    “The big exception to this rule seems to be electric vehicles, where nearly half the households in the country are thinking about buying one. Yet consumers still need reassurance that there are enough public charging points to get them from A to B without being stranded before they go full throttle for battery powered cars.

    “One area which is less complicated, however, is making simple changes such as using less energy at home and opting for sustainable electricity. Green tariffs are among the cheapest on the market and could save people over £300 a year on their bill, as well as supporting renewable energy.”

    Green energy tariffs – cheapest deals

    Find out how you could save over £1,000 a year with uSwitch here.

    — ends —

    Notes to editors

    Research was conducted online by Opinium between 30th August and 3rd September 2019, among 2,002 UK adults.  

    1. When asked ‘How concerned are you about climate change?’, 34% of respondents said ‘Very concerned – I think it is a real threat’ and 40% said ‘Concerned – I think we need to take action to combat it’. 34 + 40 = 74. 27.2 million households in the UK (source: ONS). 74% of 27.2 million = 20,128,000
    2. When asked ‘Would you be happy to personally pay for the infrastructure that is needed for the UK to get to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050?’, 31% said yes
    3. When asked ‘You said that you would be willing to make monthly contributions through your energy bills, taxes or a direct debit, how much would you be prepared to pay a month?’, the mean amount was £37.80. £37.80 x 12 = £453.60. For 18-34 year olds, the mean amount was £61.40. £61.40 x 12 = £736.80. For those in London (region), the mean amount was £90.90. £90.90 x 12 = £1,090.80. For those in the South East , the mean amount was £17. £17 x 12 = £204
    4. When asked ‘Would you consider purchasing an electric vehicle in the next five years?’, 44% said yes 
    5. When asked ‘In the past year, have you made a conscious effort to reduce your impact on the environment in any of the following ways?’, 68% selected recycling, 64% selected ‘bring your own reusable bag when you shop’, 38% selected ‘stop using plastic straws’, 33% selected ‘cycling/ walking/ taking public transport instead of driving’ and 12% selected ‘Avoid flying where possible or fly less/ shorter distances’
    6. When asked ‘In the past year, have you made a conscious effort to conserve, or use less energy in your home in any of the following ways?’, 15% said ‘N/A –  I have not made any effort to conserve or use less energy in the home’, 55% selected ‘Unplug your devices / turn off lights when they’re not in use’, 52% selected ‘Use LED / energy efficient lightbulbs’, 47% selected ‘wash clothes at a lower temperature’, 21% selected ‘Insulate / draught-proof your home’ and 6% selected ‘investing in solar power.’ Ofgem statistics suggest there were over 800,000 Domestic Solar PV installations as at 31 March 2019. 
    7. When asked ‘Have you switched, or are you considering switching to a green energy supplier or tariff?’, 25% said ‘Yes, I have switched to a green energy supplier or tariff’ and 28% said ‘Yes, I am considering switching to a green energy supplier or tariff’
    8. uSwitch.com data, correct as at 23 September 2019: Price cap on Standard Variable Tariffs from 1 Oct = £1179, cheapest green tariff = £846 (Outfox the Market, “One Variable 6.0”)
    9. When asked ‘Has your attitude towards climate change altered in the past year?’, 25% said ‘Yes, I am more conscious than ever before about climate change and the ways in which I can reduce my carbon footprint’
    10. When asked ‘Would you be happy to personally help pay for the infrastructure that is needed for the UK to get to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050?’, 12% said ‘Yes, as an additional fee on my monthly energy bill’ and 10% said ‘Yes, through additional monthly taxes’, 4% said ‘Yes, through a monthly direct debit into a specific fund for zero-carbon infrastructure’, 5% said ‘Yes, as a one off payment / donation’, 22% said ‘No – I think the government should pay for it’, 31% said ‘No – I think the energy companies should pay for it’, 2% said ‘No – I think someone else should pay for it’ and 14% said ‘No – because I’m not concerned about climate change’
    11. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-doubles-funding-for-on-street-electric-car-charging
    12. When asked ‘You said that you would not consider purchasing an electric vehicle in the next 5 years, why is this?’, 35% said ‘They’re too expensive to purchase compared to regular vehicles’, 33% said ‘I’m worried about the battery life / not being able to drive very far before having to recharge’, 31% said ‘I don’t think there is adequate charging infrastructure around the country (e.g. on the motorway)’ and 31% said ‘I don’t have the charging infrastructure at home / near me’
    13. When asked ‘You said that you have switched / would consider switching to a green energy supplier / tariff, why is this?’, 42% said ‘It’s important to me personally to reduce my own impact on the environment’, 35% said ‘It’s important for my children and / or future generations that we reduce our impact on the environment’, 31% said ‘The cost of a renewable energy tariff is lower than before’ and 29% said ‘There are more deals to choose from now’
    14. When asked ‘You said you have not switched / would not consider switching to a green energy tariff or supplier, why is this?’, 16% said ‘Renewable energy is too expensive’

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