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.