Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland people prefer extra tax over using green energy, study suggests

More people would be prepared to be taxed according to their household sustainability levels than use green energy in their homes, despite it being recognised as a priority in tackling climate change. (stock photo)
More people would be prepared to be taxed according to their household sustainability levels than use green energy in their homes, despite it being recognised as a priority in tackling climate change. (stock photo)
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

Research into the environmental attitudes and priorities of people living in Northern Ireland has identified a "green gap" in attempts to run more eco-friendly homes.

More people would be prepared to be taxed according to their household sustainability levels than use green energy in their homes, despite it being recognised as a priority in tackling climate change.

Green energy is the area where we are least likely to put our money where our mouth is, with 46% of Northern Ireland residents claiming they would be willing to pay more for a product or service if it were better for the environment, but only 4% being willing to use a green energy supplier that cost more than a standard supplier.

Over a third (39%) would need green electricity to be cheaper than their standard supplier before they would change. Nearly one in 10, meanwhile, would not even consider switching to a green energy supplier, particularly older respondents, no matter the price.

Almost two-thirds (64%) believe that green electricity should be subsidised to encourage people to use it, according to the research by online household bill management platform Homebox.

In comparison to buying electricity from green energy suppliers, more people from Northern Ireland take their own reusable cups to coffee shops (7%), holiday in the UK to avoid air miles (14%), grow their own food (21%), purchase fair trade items (29%) or only flush the toilet when absolutely necessary (36%).

In response to the findings of the study, Homebox founder Hedley Smith claimed that there was a huge lack of understanding of green energy.

"Unsurprisingly, plastic is dominating the climate change agenda and topping the list of environmental issues that people are prioritising right now," she explained.

"But this masks other important steps that people could take which would have significant environmental benefits and where there is a huge lack of understanding.

"People still don't seem to realise that green energy is easy to find, simple to switch to and one of the cheapest energy options for their home.

"In fact, all the cheapest energy tariffs currently available are 100% green."

Overall half of people living in Northern Ireland feel they have some understanding of how their choices contribute to climate change.

However, more than one in 10 admit they have almost no clue how their choices contribute to climate change.

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