Scottish consumers will need to make significant changes to the way they use energy if government emissions targets are to be met, a study has found.
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) says it believes the Scottish government needs to help citizens change their behaviour to tackle climate change.
The report from its Consumer Futures Unit, which speaks for consumers across the regulated industries of energy and water, identified seven key behaviours needed to reach the target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 90 per cent by 2050.
The behaviours highlighted in the “Changing behaviour in a changing climate: consumers and Scottish climate change policy” report are:
- Upgrading domestic heating
- Completing energy efficiency retrofits
- Installation of smart meters
- Switching to electric vehicles or ultra-low emission vehicles (EVs/ULEVs)
- Adopt energy saving behaviours (heat)
- Adopt energy saving behaviours (electricity / water)
- Purchase energy efficient appliances
The report recognises several of the behaviours rely on customers making an upfront financial investment which may act as a barrier to both consumers and the Scottish government meeting its emission reduction targets.
The CAS has suggested that the Scottish government requires a “route map” of how it intends to persuade Scots to change their consumer behaviour.
In response to the report Kevin Stewart, minister for local government, housing and planning, said the Scottish government has committed to investing half a billion pounds over the four years to 2021 to address fuel poverty and improve energy efficiency.
Stewart added: “We recognise behavioural change is critical to meeting Scotland’s ambitious climate change targets and progressing towards a low carbon society as well as helping people have more energy efficient and warmer homes.
“That’s why we fund Home Energy Scotland to support individuals and households to adopt changes that make a real difference, such as better heat management and energy efficiency measures.”
Home Energy Scotland provides free advice on energy efficiency measures to all householders, including advice on support schemes and energy saving changes around the home.
Meanwhile SSE said it works with both Westminster and Holyrood governments on a “number of programmes” to encourage behaviour change and “improve domestic energy efficiency”.
A spokesperson said: “These include, but are not limited to; rolling out smart meters to our customers right across Great Britain, providing funding for energy efficiency measures in customers’ homes as part of the Energy Company Obligation (Eco) and the Warm Home Discount (WHD) scheme and offering customers advice on how they can save energy when they speak to our customer service teams.”
CAS energy spokesperson Emma Grant McColm, said: “We strongly support the targets set out in the government’s energy strategy.
“They are ambitious, but that is as it should be. With our wealth of natural resources Scotland is well-placed to be a world leader in building a greener, smarter energy landscape.
“However, our concern is that these targets will not be met unless Scots consume less energy in their daily lives, and this will not happen automatically.
“In the Citizens Advice network we spend a lot of our time trying to persuade people to adopt energy-saving measures to help cut their fuel bills so we know that people are often reluctant to make these changes. Some are not aware of how to do so, and others need additional support, including financial assistance.
“We believe Scots will be willing to play their part in tackling climate change if they are encouraged to do so. What is required here is a route map from the government, setting out how they intend to put Scotland’s consumers at the heart of their climate change policy and enable them to change their behaviour in the way we all want to see.”