Latest Report: Improving the consumer journey on the road to clean energy

13 March 2023

Today, the supply and use of energy produces around three-quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions. Transforming the energy system holds the key to averting the worst effects of climate change - but it will require urgent and fundamental transformation of systems at a global scale, with profound implications for people, societies and economies. 

At the same time, consumers are facing the worst energy crisis in a generation. In our latest global Member insights survey, over 80% of consumer groups reported that people are adjusting their budgets to pay their energy bills, driven up by skyrocketing fossil fuel prices.

These joint challenges require innovative solutions and greater sectoral collaboration to help consumers through the price crisis and ensure a rapid transition to clean energy that secures inclusion, sustainability and affordability in the long term. Consumers are a fundamental part of the solution - but how can we support them to take action, what additional protections will consumers need in rapidly evolving markets, and how can we ensure vulnerable consumers are not left behind? 

Global research to protect and empower consumers

Today Consumers International publishes its latest White Paper, 'Consumer protection and empowerment for a clean energy future', with support from Enel Foundation as knowledge partner and ACE Research as technical partner. This explores the opportunity for strengthened consumer protection that accelerates the clean energy transition and ensures fair outcomes for consumers in future energy markets. This research is a first step to bringing policies, regulation, and better business practice in line with the legitimate needs of the consumer. 

Our paper assesses the barriers and opportunities encountered in an ordinary consumer journey - from awareness to investment to use. And through in-depth case studies from 11 countries across diverse socioeconomic and market contexts, we illustrate opportunities for regulators, consumer advocates and the energy sector to learn from and take action. 


Key takeaways

  • The transition depends on consumer action. Key enablers of the transition - electrification, efficiency, digitalisation, and decentralisation - depend on consumer action. For example, there is no realistic pathway to electrifying end uses that does not mobilise individual consumer investment at scale, and a decentralised clean energy system will require consumer-led solutions such as self-generation and energy communities. 
  • Consumer empowerment can deliver huge benefits for individuals, energy systems and the planet. Increased consumer engagement with the energy system will make it more effective, efficient and resilient. For consumers themselves, benefits include lower energy bills, better health and improved air quality. 
  • Consumer protection and empowerment can accelerate the transition. Importantly, this will help to lift many of the barriers consumers face in engaging with energy systems - supporting them in choices such as the purchase of home appliances, or in how consumers engage with a changing energy system. 
  • The needs of consumers must be embedded in energy systems. Action and cooperation from across energy market actors, system designers, and consumer organisations is needed to ensure the consumer experience is fully taken into account in the energy system. 
  • Taking a consumer journey framework can illustrate the opportunities or barriers consumers face when adopting sustainable energy practices. 

Building confidence and trust in the consumer journey.

Our recommendations

The White Paper calls for ambitious, cross-cutting sectoral collaboration to: 

  1. Align consumer and energy policy and international and national levels. Such as bringing together diverse actors at policy-making forums, or greater direct employment of consumer specialists in energy organisations. 
  2. Support market offers and business models that protect and empower consumers by design. Such as through the creation of one-stop shops to provide consumers with comprehensive, trusted information and advice.
  3. Scale the available data and intelligence on the consumer-side of energy transitions. This would mean improved progress-tracking on metrics such as affordable access to energy solutions, the savings benefit being passed on to consumers, understanding of clean energy solutions and their benefits, and access to clean transport solutions. 

World Consumer Rights Day 

This week, Consumers International is leading a united call to 'empower consumers through clean energy transitions.' Together with our members and senior leaders from government, business, international agencies and civil society, we will demonstrate how consumer protection can educate, protect and empower consumers in clean energy futures.

The paper sets the scene for our Clean Energy Conference, and on day one joins influential energy experts to discuss its findings and recommendations. Speakers will bring the 'consumer' journey to life, through thumbnail sketches sharing insights from around the world, from energy communities in Italy to decarbonisation in Brazil. 

Join the conversation this week, register here

Join us

We welcome leaders from across government, civil society, business, the energy sector and other sectors to build with us and advance our recommendations to support consumers. 

Contact to learn more about our clean energy futures roadmap in 2023 and beyond.