Thursday, 3 September 2009

Climate change and energy: A consumer issue

Ruth Golding writes:

'CI has been working on issues around climate change and energy for years. Sustainable energy, access to basic services like energy and water, confusing or misleading green claims– these have long been big issues for consumers around the world. But our members have told us we need to do more, so we’re upping our game and making climate change and energy a top line issue.

Today CI kicks off its new focus on climate change and energy with the launch of a new dedicated section on the English and Spanish websites. As well as information about the work CI is doing and plans to come, the pages have some really useful links and resources (check out our climate change and energy glossary and our links to publications our members have produced).

The launch of the web pages marks the beginning of a three year period of concentrated work in this area for CI. But it also comes as a result of a ground swell of work in the consumer movement, disparate projects and programmes within CI and not least some really interesting consultations with our members and experts in the field.

The consultations have also given us the chance to find out more about some of the innovative and important work our members around the world are doing on climate change and energy. To find out for yourself, have a look on our website.

Responses from our members told us that climate change and energy is their number one priority and 60% of respondents were planning to do work themselves in this area in the next two years. So what makes this such a key issue for consumers?

Consumers are concerned about climate change and about its effects. Consumption patterns are at the very heart of climate and energy issues. Millions of consumers around the world are experiencing the traumatic effects of climate change now, particularly in the global south, while at the same time unsustainable levels and patterns of consumption continue (despite progress), and particularly so in the global north.

The contribution of the consumer movement is absolutely key to discussions on climate change. We need to make sure consumers voices are heard and consumer interests are recognised and acted on. Too often we hear rhetoric from governments, businesses and in the press using so called “consumer demands” as an excuse not to act on climate change. We read that improvements can’t be made because consumers don’t want change.

In fact at CI we know all the evidence points to the opposite conclusion: Consumers want change, they don’t want to suffer the effects of climate change now or in the future and they want to make good consumption choices. But they want to be given the tools and guidance to do this. CI and our members are here to set the record straight.'

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