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    UK to clamp down on 'greenwash' retailers

Summary

Consumers might be gulled into buying renewable energy, not knowing about the offsets and other artificial accounting measures.

by: William Powell

Posted in:

Complimentary, Natural Gas & LNG News, Europe, Political, Environment, Regulation, News By Country, United Kingdom

UK to clamp down on 'greenwash' retailers

The UK government is clamping down on energy retailers' ability to offer ‘green’ electricity tariffs to consumers amid concerns that some are overstating the environmental case for their products.

According to a statement from the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), 9mn British households are now on green tariffs, with over half of all new electricity tariffs launched now badged as ‘100% renewable’ or ‘green’.

"With more and more consumers looking to make a green switch and reduce their carbon footprint and the UK having more than quadrupled its renewable electricity generation since 2010, the government wants to ensure consumers signing up to a green tariff know their energy is coming from green sources of electricity generation," BEIS said.

Energy companies can currently market tariffs as ‘green’ even if some of the energy they supply to customers comes from fossil fuels, as long as they buy enough Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin to meet their customers' demand. Options being explored include looking at whether the system around these certificates needs to be smarter.

BEIS is considering whether suppliers need to provide clearer information to households about their green tariffs, including the type of renewable energy used, where the renewable power was generated and when.

Energy minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said while more of the national supply came from renewables, she wanted people to know that when they sign up to a green tariff, they are investing in companies that make a conscious choice to invest in renewable energy. "Part of that is ensuring companies are being as transparent as possible on where their power comes from," she said.

Nearly two-thirds (62%) of UK energy consumers say their purchasing decisions are influenced by how eco-friendly an energy tariff is. However, 75% believe suppliers should be open and transparent about their tariffs, including how much of their renewable energy they buy from other companies.

Consumer protection advocates and price comparison services have also called for greater transparency around suppliers who market their tariffs as green.

Price comparison website Uswitch said: "More and more people are purchasing green tariffs but it’s been difficult for bill-payers to know exactly what’s under the hood of these deals. We support any measures that aim to demystify green tariffs for households."