A FAMILY MEMBER has just bought a (nearly) new car. Said member – let's call him "Tim" – didn't have much interest in brands or motoring; he simply wanted something that was frugal, safe and big enough for the family. That is, until he started shopping.
His thoughts soon turned to the touring models crafted by Audi and Volvo. Wonderful to drive, perhaps, and safe as houses – but you’d need to extend your mortgage to buy one. And then there are the running costs. As the costs began to rack up, so his domestic lobbying began to fall on deaf ears.
He ended up with a Ford Mondeo. He’ll have to invest in a blazer to hang up in the back, but that (and the family jokes) are a small price to pay when he tots up his savings on fuel and vehicle excise duty each year (well over £500).
Tim could have afforded the more stylish options, but he had his head turned as much by the performance figures as the initial costs. Dealers have to display economy and emissions labels on cars; not only has this driven customers like Tim to look at the most economical – and environmentally friendly – options, but it’s also ensured car manufacturers produce greener models that will gradually nudge customers towards more sustainable options.
Sitting at a BPEX event recently, where low-impact diets were on the agenda (see page 16), I considered whether there were any similar drivers at play in the food sector. Alas, there are not. In fact, the UK is importing vast amounts of high-carbon products, including food. There may be a benefit, said the Committee on Climate Change recently, in labelling the carbon footprint of carbon intensive products to encourage uptake of low-carbon alternatives.
Of course, the carbon footprint of, say, cheese is a lot harder to calculate than that of a car, but that’s no excuse. Car companies are helping nudge customers towards more sustainable choices, both with their products and their marketing. Our sector (perhaps through regulation) should be encouraged to do the same. After all, food consumption is just as significant as transport when it comes to creating greenhouse gases.