Director of Sustainability and Social Purpose, Cadent
Research conducted by the UK’s largest gas distribution network shows what UK households think about sustainability with the cost of living crisis.
What is the public’s attitude towards sustainability during the cost of living crisis? Last year, Cadent — the UK’s largest gas distribution network — began working with research institute Thinks Insight & Strategy, to collect consumer intel as part of a long-term study: Energy Diaries.
“The latest findings reveal three key messages,” says Mark Belmega, Director of Sustainability and Social Purpose at Cadent. “First is that people genuinely care about sustainability — but around a quarter have stopped actively looking to implement sustainability measures right now.
“Secondly, around three-quarters of respondents look to businesses like ours to be more sustainable, expecting us to support customers to do the same. Thirdly, only around 21% of consumers think energy companies and 26% of consumers think government are doing enough to offer support, indicating the need for a more joined-up approach.”
Supporting vulnerable customers in society
The study also found that people want the energy industry to focus on the most vulnerable in society, including those trapped in fuel poverty. “Collaboration is key, and we’re working with fantastic organisations — such as National Energy Action — to drive initiatives in the most deprived communities and support those who do not have access to tools and information that can help deliver meaningful change,” says Belmega.
“For example, we’ve implemented a scheme called Centres for Warmth in low-income areas. People can visit for a free consultation with a trained consultant who will help them understand ways to change energy use in their homes. They can also learn about government support they perhaps didn’t know they were entitled to. The average householder leaves one of these consultations around £2,000–£2,500 better off.”
Businesses must proactively help
the UK reach its net zero targets.
Taking proactive steps in business
Businesses must proactively help the UK reach its net zero targets — which, notes Belmega, is hanging in the balance right now. They should be transparent about their current sustainability performance while setting out ambitious goals to decarbonise operations.
Importantly, companies should focus on areas most relevant to them. “For example, our business transports a fossil fuel,” says Belmega. “So, long-term, the biggest thing we can do is transition away from natural gas and explore low carbon gas alternatives. In the short-term, natural gas will remain a primary heating source and our role right now is to do everything we can to drive down our own emissions while helping customers, particularly those in the most vulnerable situations, become more energy-efficient. It’s a win-win that cuts costs and carbon.”