Consumers International calls for action to support consumers at the global climate summit - COP26
The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), 31 October -12 November, offers a unique opportunity to step up international ambition on climate change and to take decisive steps towards achieving a net zero emissions world. Consumers International is using this global opportunity to call for commitments that meet consumer rights and needs when tackling the climate crisis. Here is what our global membership has to say:
Reaching net-zero emissions will require all economic actors across all sectors to make transformational changes to the way they operate. This includes the largest group of actors in the global economy: consumers. We are all consumers of products and services – all part of a connected global marketplace. And as consumers, we hold huge potential to drive tipping points for change.
Economy-wide transformation means establishing new patterns of consumption and production, which will sometimes require shifts in individuals’ behaviours. Consumers everywhere will have to make changes to how we travel, heat, save money, cool and power our homes, the food we eat, the products we buy and how we save and spend. These changes will only happen if consumers are supported and enabled by other actors in the marketplace and by ambitious government action.
Top 5 policy recommendations
How can a fast, fair, and accountable transition become reality at COP26? Our latest report lays out top 5 policy recommendations to support consumers in a global climate transition.
Read below for practical examples of how our global membership is actively helping consumers move towards a net-zero world:
1. Take action against the most carbon-intensive forms of transport
- Ensure consumers are informed in a reliable and accessible way about the true emissions levels of each form of transport
- Prioritise regulation of manufacturers, who have most agency to respond, ahead of measures that affect consumers directly
The Mile21 project, carried out by Consumers International members Altroconsumo, Test-Achats, DECO PROTESTE and OCU, together with their partners, monitors the gap between real-world data on fuel consumption (gathered through direct consumer involvement and vehicle tests on the road) and the data provided by car manufacturers. Through the platform’s self-reporting tool, consumers can track their car’s consumption, receive advice on green driving and test their savings potential. The compare tool helps consumers make well-informed purchase decisions for more efficient vehicles
2. Invest in a functioning public and active transport infrastructure
- Complement investment in public transport infrastructure with subsidies for low carbon travel
- Evolve planning laws to reduce the need for personal vehicles, whilst supporting cycling and walking
Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group (CAG), India
In India, CAG, carried out research, public awareness and government engagement to promote the integration of public transport systems for easy use by consumers. Studies on Intermediate Public Transport (such as car sharing) explore the possibility of scaling ‘transport as a service’ models. Periodical road audits assess the pedestrian and cyclist-friendliness of Chennai’s roads and suggest key design interventions to ensure safety.
3. Ensure renewable electricity is affordable for all consumers
- Give consumers the information and power to choose their energy
- Design flexible markets which give consumers access to affordable renewable electricity
Colectivo Ecologista Jalisco (CEJ), Mexico
The electricity in Mexico’s heavily populated Guadalajara Metropolitan Area (AMG) is likely sourced from a thermoelectric power plant in the neighbouring state of Colima, which is surrounded by fragile ecosystems and vulnerable populations. During the 2021 Green Action Week campaign, CEJ held a series of ‘Digital Dialogues on Energy Consumption’ in order to: document and communicate the origin of the energy consumed in the AMG; encourage the exchange of concerns and experiences between the consumers of the AMG and the inhabitants of Manzanillo affected by the thermoelectric plant; and enable consumers to discuss and take ownership of their right to human and environmental health and access to clean, renewable and affordable energy.
4. Promote innovation and investment in a more circular materials economy
- Introduce robust ‘Right to Repair’ legislation
- Strengthen laws against premature obsolescence, and set product standards on durability
Consumer advocates for a circular economy
In France, UFC Que Choisir have taken legal action against Nintendo for the premature obsolescence of one of their controllers, which was backed up by BEUC at the European level. Consumer advocates across Europe have joined the PROMPT consortium (Premature Obsolescence Multi-Stakeholder Product Testing programme), which aims to help reduce resource depletion and prevent waste. In Belgium, Spain, Italy and Portugal, consumer advocates are pursuing class actions against Apple for premature obsolescence. In Australia, CHOICE is campaigning for right to repair, advocating for a new labelling scheme for durability, and rolling out information in reviews to help people consider refurbished models.
5. Support the development of sustainable food production
- Align agricultural policies and subsidies to 1.5 degrees Celsius trajectory
- Create and promote frameworks to connect consumers directly with producers
Consumer advocates for sustainable agriculture
In Mexico, Via Organica run workshops and training on organic food planning, including helping rural communities plant agaves and acacias for carbon sequestration. In Malaysia, Togo, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Pakistan, Rwanda, Ecuador, Peru and elsewhere, consumer advocates are training consumers to grow organic kitchen gardens with multiple co-benefits for health and environment, connecting agro-ecological farmers with local consumers at itinerant food fairs, and setting up community platforms to share seeds and manure amongst rural households. In India, Mumbai Grahak Panchayat, have run a collective buying scheme for four decades, which facilitates the purchasing and delivery of local food over 30,000 families.
Consumers International, with its 200 member organisations, of which over 120 are from low-and-middle income countries, has a long history of working to achieve sustainable consumption and production patterns across a range of sectors. This includes a successful campaign to update the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection to incorporate sustainability in 1999 and 2015. Find out more on our work in this area here.
As a global consumer movement, we will continue to represent the voice of consumers to international decision-makers to achieve solutions that work for both people and planet.