13 Oct 2021

Half of UK backs green tax on polluting products while two thirds call for compulsory labelling

  • New Consumer Insight Panel research shows widespread support for sustainable spending
  • 47 per cent of people back ‘green tax’ on damaging products, rising to 54% of Gen Z
  • More than two thirds support mandatory environmental labelling for all products
  • Dealing with climate change a bigger priority than economic growth, poll highlights

Around half of UK consumers back a ‘green tax’ on environmentally damaging goods while two thirds think the government should make it compulsory for all products to include labelling on their environmental impact, according to latest research from the UK Consumer Insight Panel.

The Consumer Insight Panel is a cross-sector group promoting a fair economic recovery in the wake of Brexit and Covid-19 across three core areas – green, financial wellbeing and consumer protection. Members include Asda, Citizens Advice, Fairer Finance, Ipsos MORI, Kingfisher, Money Saving Expert, Nationwide Building Society, Resolution Foundation and Which?.

The research1, conducted by Ipsos MORI, reveals the extent to which the UK public support further efforts to fight climate change and are looking for assistance from business and government.

It shows 47 per cent are in favour of the government adding a ‘green tax’ to products that are more environmentally damaging, with 54 per cent of Generation Z (25 and under) thinking this versus 43 per cent of Baby Boomers (56-76)2.

The research also reveals that around two thirds (65%) say the government should make it compulsory for all products to include environmental labelling (much like many electrical goods carry energy ratings).

Separate data3, also from Ipsos MORI, reveals that in August, climate change was seen by the public as the second most important issue for Britain behind only Covid-19, with one in three people (32%) stating it as a concern. Furthermore, worry about climate change is at its highest since 1989 – the year the ozone layer was protected through the banning of CFCs.

Looking to the recovery, the Panel’s poll shows four in ten (40%) people say the government’s main priority should be to deal with climate change, regardless of the economic impact – compared with a third (34%) who say economic growth should be prioritised regardless of the impact on the environment.

In a counter to the view that younger people are more likely to be concerned about climate change, the insight also shows that older generations are more likely to say the government should prioritise further investment to support the reduction of carbon emissions – 39 per cent of Baby Boomers compared with a quarter (26%) among Generation Z.

Overconsumption is a theme that comes across in the poll, with more than two thirds (68%) believing that their impact on the environment can be reduced by consuming less, while 67 per cent say that everyone must make an effort to buy less to help reduce carbon emissions.

Despite this realisation, there is also a widespread perception that cost is a major barrier to green consumption, with almost three quarters (72%) saying that eco-friendly products are too expensive for people on lower incomes, and the most commonly cited barrier to people making more sustainable purchases is that they do not think the benefits outweigh the costs.

Consumers are looking to companies to make it easier for them to make the jump to more sustainable choices. Around half (49%) say it is currently too difficult to choose a product or service that represents the greenest option, with 51 per cent saying it is too hard to understand how damaging certain products are to the planet. Half (50%) want companies to make products more environmentally friendly without adding to the cost consumers pay and 56 per cent want retailers to work harder to remove unnecessary packaging.

Joe Garner, Chief Executive of Nationwide Building Society, said: “The challenge to live greener lives has never been more relevant. However, as our research show there is still a long way to go. Consumers want businesses to do more in helping them make the transition to products and services that are less damaging to the environment. As we move into and beyond COP 26, we all need to play a more active role, whether that’s helping consumers make their homes greener or removing unnecessary packaging and damaging materials from our physical and virtual shelves.”

Notes to editors

Media information;

 Eden Black, 07793596317, eden.black@nationwide.co.uk

Notes to Editor:

1 Survey technical note: Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 3,288 adults aged 16-75 living in the United Kingdom using its online access panel. Interviews were carried out between 27 and 31 August 2021. Data has been weighted with UK nations to the known offline population proportions for age, working status and social grade within gender, government office region and education. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error.

2 Generational breakdown: % agreeing that ‘I’d be in favour of the government adding a “green tax” to products that are more environmentally damaging’

Age demographic

% in favour of a green tax

Gen Z




Gen X


Baby Boomer


 3 Ipsos MORI Issues Index