It ain’t easy being green: maintaining consumer trust in green goods and addressing ‘greenwashing’ claims

Developing trusted consumer markets for green goods will be critical to the success of the Net Zero transition. This report examines how government and regulators can address the presence of 'greenwashing' - with a focus on the retail energy market - to ensure consumers do not feel misled by the costs or benefits of climate policy and green goods.

Greenwashing is the practice of misleading consumers on the environmental attributes of a business, product or service. In the energy retail sector, there is a growing concern that not all tariffs ‘100% renewable’ tariffs are as green as they say they are. This is due to Ofgem’s accreditation framework, whereby the certification of renewable energy can be sold separately from the electricity itself, creating a secondary market for certificates that suppliers can purchase without necessarily sourcing renewable energy.

Misleading environmental claims threaten to undermine the UK’s transition to Net Zero for two principal reasons:
  1. Where high-emitting products continue to be manufactured and sold under the guise of ‘green’, greenwashing may slow investment in low-carbon alternatives
  2. Where consumers perceive that they have been misled, greenwashing threatens the viability of the whole Net Zero agenda by fuelling political backlash.

This report draws on survey data commissioned from Opinium which seeks to understand consumers’ attitudes towards green energy and makes a series of recommendations to boost trust and consumer confidence in the domestic energy market.


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