Saturday, 6 August 2022

Creeps Being Creepy

Laura Dodsworth has a piece in CAPX on the domestic energy debacle and the creepy activities of the Behaviourial Insights Team or Nudge Unit;

In October 2021 Boris Johnson pledged that Britain could meet its ambitious net zero targets ‘without so much as a hair shirt in sight’ as the Government set out its plans to decarbonise the economy. ‘Green is good,’ he said, and not ‘inextricably bound up with a sense that we have to sacrifice the things we love’.

Rather than good, green will be very cold and very dark for millions of Brits this winter. We will be sacrificing heating and lighting, never mind the things we love. With energy bills at £3,615 by next year, we might be glad of a few hair shirts.

Don’t worry though, the Government is here to help…

Or rather, the government aims to keep the lid on things via various wheezes such as local league tables.

Lis Costa, managing director of the Behaviourial Insights Team – aka the Nudge Unit – has said her team is ‘considering the full remit of its policy toolbox” to reduce household demand. Along with subsidies for vulnerable households, she has proposed sending letters to households to let them know how their energy use compares with their neighbours.

This is not the first time the Nudge Unit has proposed ‘energy leaderboards’. Back in 2011 they suggested emulating US firm Opower’s ‘success’ in a neighbourhood energy comparison scheme which resulted in a reduction of 2-3% in energy use.

The whole piece is worth reading as it gives a number of examples to suggest that this kind of nudge is not particularly effective and what little effect there is tends to peter out quite quickly.


Sam Vega said...

Sure, there are examples of the nudge unit's failures, but my inner conspiracist lies awake at night worrying about the nudges they haven't told us about, but which have been brilliantly successful. How else to explain celebrating diversity (rather than merely tolerating it); women on the radio adopting vocal fry and a weird mewing tone; and the popularity among Conservatives of Liz Thingummy?

dearieme said...

If things go sufficiently wrong I suppose the crowds may hang the "nudge unit" along with other guilty parties (and inevitably some innocent parties too).

I've just been reading about Charles I and the start of the Civil War/War of Three Kingdoms. I now look at today's UK and wonder whether there's anyone who would bother to fight to preserve the Ancien RĂ©gime.

A K Haart said...

Sam - "women on the radio adopting vocal fry and a weird mewing tone" Why do they do that? It automatically comes across as contrived and insincere yet they seem to think it conveys something positive. As for Liz Thingummy, they seem to be piling on the expectations to such a degree that she is bound to fail.

dearieme - I don't think anyone would fight to preserve it, but would expect someone else to sort things out in a reassuring manner with the support of experts.