Public support for sustainability wanes as economic woes continue

Hot on the heels of research earlier this month that UK motorists want the government to scrap the ban on new internal combustion engine vehicles from 2030, there is further evidence that the public want a halt on moves to sustainability while the cost of living crisis continues.

Lloyd’s Chair Bruce Carnegie- Brown said this week that any efforts to drive sustainability would require standards understood by the man in the street as public support would be vital.

EY has issued its Energy Consumer Confidence Index (ECCI) which found consumers are struggling to see the benefits of the energy transition now and aren’t confident that things will improve in the future.

The company surveyed 36,000 residential energy consumers across 18 markets to understand consumer confidence today and three years from now, across five factors – the stability of energy providers’ business; value created by providers for consumers and their community; ability to access clean energy options; access to affordable energy; and regulator or government support for a fair and equitable energy transition.

EY mapped the ECCI against the World Economic Forum’s Energy Transition Index, which benchmarks countries across 38 indicators of energy transition progress. The findings reveal an interesting correlation between countries’ progress in the energy transition and energy consumer confidence. As a market progresses through the energy transition, consumer confidence first rises, reflecting positive sentiment around the possibilities of the future, before falling sharply. It seems that as the scale, complexity and disruption of the journey move from theory to reality, the impacts hit home.

The index also highlighted a link between consumer confidence, accessibility and affordability. For example, consumers on lower incomes have lower confidence, perhaps reflecting a feeling of being unable to access or afford new energy solutions, such as rooftop solar, home battery storage and electric vehicles. To date, a focus on higher-income consumers as the early adopters of these solutions has made it more difficult for people on lower incomes to participate in the energy transition and see its benefits.

Greg Guthridge, EY Global Energy & Resources customer experience transformation leader, said restoring confidence will be key if transition plans are to succeed.

“Energy consumer confidence is an important factor in driving actions and investment in new energy solutions, and will accelerate, or hinder, the breadth and momentum of the energy transition,” he explained. “If it continues to waver, net-zero pledges and clean energy ambitions are unlikely to be fully realised. This is a wake-up call for all players in the energy ecosystem who together need to address this challenge to secure a better energy future.”

EY said the success of energy transition depends on rebuilding consumer confidence now, and it will require a concerted cross-sector, cross-government effort.

Serge Colle, EY Global Energy & Resources Industry market leader, warned efforts to go it alone to deliver transformation were falling on deaf ears with the consumer.

“Many organisations are approaching the energy transition in isolation, with little thought for the holistic customer experience. Success will require leaders from across the energy ecosystem to step forward, break down barriers and simplify our collective energy transition journey.” He added.

In the past we have seen efforts to drive business transformation strategies fail due the lack of buy-in from middle management who all too often take the view that they have a short period before they retire and the stress of delivering change would be better left to those who come after. Company directors have the power to drive change in the face of staff reluctance. However, it becomes a whole different ball game when it is the client who is resistant to change.

Jon Guy,  Editor,

Emerging Risks