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Climate change is a problem that affects us all. Strong international cooperation and ambitious action from all actors in the global market is critical to mitigate environmental consequences for both people and planet.
The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), 31 October -12 November, offers a unique opportunity to step up international ambition on climate change. We need global, concrete and measurable commitments from governments, and bold roadmaps from every sector of the global economy to drive the climate transformation.
Consumers are key to ensuring the promises made in Glasgow become reality. For the world to reach net zero, consumers everywhere will have to make fundamental changes to how we travel, heat, cool and power our homes, the food we eat, the products we buy and how we save and spend. But these changes will only happen if consumers are supported and enabled by other actors in the marketplace and by ambitious government action.
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. Together with our global consumer advocacy membership, we have put together a series of cross-cutting calls for action to make a fast, fair and accountable climate transition a reality.
The global consumer movement is using this opportunity to call for commitments that meet consumer rights and unlock consumers’ potential when tackling the climate crisis. This is a moment for global collective action as we aim to connect, learn and build together with leaders from all stakeholder types who want a fair, safe and sustainable marketplace for all consumers.
The behavioural shifts needed from consumers for the world to reach net zero will be impossible without a significant transformation of the marketplace as a whole. To secure consumer buy-in and action, it is important the regulatory environment supports consumers to make behavioural changes. Additional protections for poor and vulnerable consumers are needed to ensure a climate transition that is fair and inclusive for all. And bringing consumer advocates into climate policy-making can help guarantee the political sustainability of rapid action.
Consumers International, with support from our global consumer advocacy membership, have put together cross-cutting demands, based on consumer rights principles. To make a fast, fair and accountable transition become a reality at COP26, we are calling on governments to commit to:
Emissions from consumption are a persistent and difficult challenge for climate policy strategy. Behavioural changes are said to be too difficult to implement, or too contentious. This is no excuse for inaction: ‘lifestyle’ emissions will need to decline by 80-93% by 2050 in developed countries, and between 23-84% in developing countries, for the world to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
To help governments and other stakeholders address this challenge, Consumers International has produced a report setting out the recommended approach of global consumer advocacy. The report is a synthesis of actions and ideas from our membership of over 200 consumer advocacy organisations, who represent consumers in countries at different stages of economic development, but are united in their view of consumer rights and responsibilities in a safe, fair and sustainable marketplace for all. It is also an invitation to all marketplace stakeholders to connect, learn and build together.
The report provides insight into what consumer-centred solutions can and should look like across six major areas of transition: transport, energy, manufactured goods, diets, domestic heating and cooling, and finance. Policy recommendations for each area of transition are accompanied by examples of our members’ work, demonstrating how consumer advocacy’s approach to behaviour change works in practice.
For over 60 years, Consumers International has represented the global voice of consumers to international decision-makers and is highly active on environmental issues. This includes a successful campaign to update the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection to incorporate sustainability in 1999 and 2015.
As a co-lead of the UN One Planet network’s Consumer Information Programme for Sustainable Consumption and Production, Consumers International convenes consumer goods companies, innovative technology start-ups, leading environmental NGOs, labelling and environmental assessment experts and government policy-makers from around the world, to scale up the provision of good quality consumer information on sustainability. Action-oriented coalitions of this breadth and depth will be needed in every sector of the global economy to drive progress towards net zero emissions.
Read more about our work on sustainability, from tackling plastic pollution to expanding the green sharing economy here.
See below for ways you can support consumers in the transition towards a net-zero world: