This report is on consumers' understanding of commonly used environmental terms, specifically "carbon neutral", "net zero" and "electric" and "hybrid" vehicles.
Key findings from the consumer research:
- There is a broad spectrum of consumer engagement on environmental issues, influencing their understanding of, and reaction to, environmental claims
- Carbon neutral and net zero were the most commonly encountered claims, but there was little consensus as to their meaning. There were calls for significant reform to simplify and standardise the definitions of such terms and for claims to be policed by an official body, such as government
- Participants tended to believe that carbon neutral claims implied that an absolute reduction in carbon emissions had taken place or would take place. When the potential role of offsetting in claims was revealed, this could result in consumers feeling that they had been misled
- Claims in air travel, energy and automotive advertising tended to attract more attention, and the potential role of offsetting, when revealed, could result in greater disappointment. Participant reactions suggested the need for transparency is potentially greater in those sectors
- Participants called for more transparency about offsetting and target dates in ads