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Consumers spending more on environment friendly goods

UK households are upping their spend on green goods and services, albeit slowly, a new report has revealed.

According to the Co-operative Bank’s latest ethical consumerism study, British homes are investing £251 a year each in environmentally responsible items such as energy-efficient appliances.

In 2008, some £6.4 billion was spent on green products and services, up 5 per cent on the previous year.

This was despite the impact of the recession.

Although the rate of increase is tentative, it is also progressive, having risen steadily over the past few years. Nevertheless, green goods still only account for 1 per cent of average household expenditure in the UK.

The money has tended to go on energy-saving electrical appliances, boilers and lightbulbs, as well as small-scale renewables and green energy tariffs.

Against the background of the UN Climate Change conference being held in Copenhagen, Tim Franklin, the Co-op Bank’s chief operating officer, said the figures indicate consumers are beginning to take climate change more seriously.

However, Mr Franklin added: “In order for the UK to reduce its carbon emissions by 30 per cent by 2020 there will need to be a step-change in the take-up of low-carbon technologies, and this will need a new contract between business, government and the consumer.”

Business innovation and ethical consumption require the support of thoughtful government intervention, Mr Franklin went on to say, as in the case of the phasing out of inefficient lightbulbs.

He concluded: “We now need to see such initiatives in a raft of new areas such as transport and electronic goods.”

The Co-op Bank’s full report is due to be published later in December.