The reduction in plastic bag use has been voted the nation’s top environmental achievement as Brits take pride in national and personal efforts to tackle climate change.
When asked which great British environmental accomplishments made them feel proud, four in ten (39%) Brits chose the charge, which was introduced with the purpose of tackling plastic pollution.
In second place, with more than a third (35%) of the vote, was the ban on plastic microbeads (small plastic particles that do not degrade in water) in 2018.
Prior to the ban, just one shower was thought to send 100,000 microbeads down the drain and into the ocean, causing serious harm to marine life.
Three in ten (32%) people said the ban on plastic straws made them feel proud, and 30% said that the safeguarding of almost 12,000 square kilometres of marine habitats was their top British environmental achievement, helping to protect species such as the rare, stalked jellyfish and short-snouted seahorse.
Victoria Bacon of Smart Energy GB, the organisation that commissioned the research and report, said: “History has shown us that amazing things happen when people work together towards a shared goal.
“Just by getting a smart meter, you are helping the country to create an energy system that can use more renewable energy and is less reliant on expensive fossil fuels. This won’t just help save the planet for future generations, it will help them save on their energy bills.”
It is not just national efforts to be greener that inspire pride, with the survey finding that more than seven in ten (72%) people feel proud when they take a personal step to help the planet, with using a ‘bag for life’ (57%), recycling (55%) and cutting down on food waste (51%) topping the list of actions.
The results demonstrate the strong desire among Brits to be environmentally friendly, with nearly eight in ten (78%) saying it’s important to them to help tackle climate change now, so that the planet is habitable for future generations.
These results follow the publication of a new report by energy experts Cornwall Insight, which finds that if households become more flexible in how and when they use energy, they can help reduce the amount of large-scale infrastructure needed for Great Britain to reach net zero.
The report shows that if households embrace flexible electricity initiatives such as time-of-use tariffs and smart meters, and shift energy usage away from peak times (typically weekdays between 4pm and 7pm), Great Britain could avoid the need to construct the equivalent of four new gas-fired power stations in 2030.
In polling over half (56%) of the public say that they would be happy to use energy flexibly if it meant that no additional gas-fired power stations would need to be built.
Households participating in flexible electricity initiatives also stand to save money on their bills. The report finds that Britain could save £14.1bn in 2040 if we, as consumers, embrace opportunities to use energy flexibly. Households could save up to £375 off their annual wholesale energy costs.
Victoria Bacon of Smart Energy GB, the organisation that commissioned the research and report, said: “Anyone who has upgraded to a smart meter can feel rightly proud, knowing that through this small act they have contributed to a greener, cleaner planet and a more efficient, modern energy system.”
Anna Moss, Senior Consultant at Cornwall Insight said: “This is a defining moment in our energy journey. Britain is moving along the path to a more electrified future, where household engagement with flexibility will enable us to reach net zero at lower cost, allowing consumers to realise the financial benefits associated. Smart meters play a pivotal role in this transition, providing crucial data and insights that empower consumers to optimise their energy use.
“By embracing household flexibility, we not only revolutionise our electricity landscape but also rejuvenate our commitment to a greener, more sustainable future.”
To find out more about how to get a smart meter, visit www.smartenergygb.org.