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Half of Brits support ‘green tax’ on polluting products

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Around half of British adults are in favour of the government introducing a tax on environmentally damaging goods, a survey suggests.

Research by The Consumer Insight Panel found 47 per cent of people would support a ‘green tax’ and two thirds (65 per cent) believe it should be compulsory for all products to include environmental labelling – in the same way many electrical goods come with energy ratings.

The Consumer Insight Panel is a cross-sector group promoting a fair economic recovery in the wake of Brexit and Covid-19 across three core areas – green, financial wellbeing and consumer protection.

Members include Asda, Citizens Advice, Fairer Finance, Ipsos MORI, Kingfisher, Money Saving Expert, Nationwide Building Society, Resolution Foundation and Which?.

The research found those aged 25 and under – so-called Generation Z – are more supportive of a ‘green tax’ (54 per cent) than Baby Boomers – those aged 56 to 76 (43 per cent).

Separate data from Ipsos MORI revealed that in August, climate change was seen by the public as the second most important issue for Britain behind only Covid-19, with one in three people (32 per cent) stating it as a concern.

The Panel’s poll found four in ten (40 per cent) people think the government’s main priority should be to deal with climate change, regardless of the economic impact – compared with a third (34 per cent) who say economic growth should be prioritised regardless of the impact on the environment.

Overconsumption is a theme that comes across in the poll, with more than two thirds (68 per cent) believing that their impact on the environment can be reduced by consuming less, while 67 per cent say that everyone must make an effort to buy less to help reduce carbon emissions.

Despite this realisation, almost three quarters (72 per cent) say that eco-friendly products are too expensive for people on lower incomes.

Consumers are looking to companies to make it easier for them to make the jump to more sustainable choices.

Around half (49 per cent) say it is currently too difficult to choose a product or service that represents the greenest option, with 51 per cent saying it is too hard to understand how damaging certain products are to the planet.

Half (50 per cent) want companies to make products more environmentally friendly without adding to the cost consumers pay and 56 per cent want retailers to work harder to remove unnecessary packaging.

Joe Garner, chief executive of Nationwide Building Society, said: “The challenge to live greener lives has never been more relevant. However, as our research show there is still a long way to go. Consumers want businesses to do more in helping them make the transition to products and services that are less damaging to the environment.

“As we move into and beyond COP 26, we all need to play a more active role, whether that’s helping consumers make their homes greener or removing unnecessary packaging and damaging materials from our physical and virtual shelves.”

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