UK households slowly going green says The Co-operative Bank

December 11, 2009

As world leaders thrash out a deal on climate change in Copenhagen, latest figures from The Co-operative Bank published today (11 December) show that UK households are slowly greening their lifestyles.

Despite the recession, spending on sustainable products and services over the past year has increased by five per cent with each UK household now spending on average £251 per annum on green items.

The data from The Co-operative Bank’s annual Ethical Consumerism Report, which will be published later this month, highlights that expenditure on environmentally friendly products and services such as energy efficient appliances, green energy and carbon offsetting now amounts to more than £6,400m.

Tim Franklin, Chief Operating Officer at The Co-operative Bank, said: ” This report acts as a timely reminder to political leaders that many people in the UK are working hard to adopt a greener lifestyle.

“However, whilst ethical consumers are playing a vital role in the early adoption and development of environmental products and services and now spend more than £6bn per annum, this still accounts for less than one percent of total household expenditure. 

“In order for the UK to reduce its carbon emissions by 30 per cent by 2020 there will need to be a step-change in take-up of low carbon technologies, and this will need a new contract between business, government and the consumer.

“The leadership of ethical consumers and the innovation of business work best when backed up by thoughtful government intervention. This has happened with white goods, boilers and lightbulbs – where inefficient laggards have been phased out. We now need to see such initiatives in a raft of new areas, such as transport and electronic goods.”

Total spend

Ethical spend to address climate change, 2004 – 2008, £ millions

2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Energy efficiency 2,352 3,080 3,363 3,798 3,957
Energy efficient appliances 1,523   1,661     1,824     1,888 1,893
Energy efficient boilers 782   1,366  1,471 1,794  1,942
Energy efficient light-bulbs 17 18 26 41 43
Rechargeable batteries 30 35 42 75 79
Transport 1,587 1,707 1,624 1,642 1,672
Green transport 439    478    473    698    741
Responsible travel 1,148 1,229  1,151  944    931
Green mortgages 357   385 396 404 455
Renewable energy 59 80 159 244 333
Micro-generation 21 26 32 32 36
Green energy 38 54 127 212 297
Total 4,355 5,252 5,542 6,088 6,417


Spend per household

Ethical spend to address climate change, 2004 – 2008, £ per household

2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Energy efficiency 94 123 133 149 155
Energy efficient appliances 61  66 72 74 74
Energy efficient boilers 31 55 58 70 76
Energy efficient light-bulbs 1 1 1 2 2
Rechargeable batteries 1 1 2 3 3
Transport 64 68 65 64 65
Green transport 18 19 19 27 29
Responsible travel 46 49 46 37 36
Green mortgages 14 15 16 16 16
Renewable energy 3 3 6 9 18
Micro-generation 1 1 1 1 1
Green energy 2 2 5 8 12
Total  175 209 220 238 251

Figures used for calculation

  • 25.7 million households in 2008 (based on ONS projections).
  • £877.8 billion total UK domestic household spending in 2008 (ONS Consumer Trends Q2 2009).