Preview of Ethical Consumer, Issue 189, March/April 2021 3 ETHICAL CONSUMER Editorial JOSIE WEXLER EDITOR WHO’S WHO THIS ISSUE’S EDITORS Josie Wexler, Ruth Strange, Rob Harrison PROOFING Ciara Maginness (Little Blue Pencil) WRITERS/RESEARCHERS Jane Turner, Tim Hunt, Rob Harrison, Anna Clayton, Josie Wexler, Ruth Strange, Mackenzie Denyer, Clare Carlile, Francesca de la Torre, Alex Crumbie, Tom Bryson, Billy Saundry, Jasmine Owens REGULAR CONTRIBUTORS Simon Birch, Colin Birch DESIGN Tom Lynton LAYOUT Adele Armistead (Moonloft), Jane Turner COVER Tom Lynton CARTOONS Marc Roberts, Mike Bryson, Andy Vine AD SALES Simon Birch SUBSCRIPTIONS Elizabeth Chater, Francesca Thomas, Nadine Oliver PRESS ENQUIRIES Simon Birch, Tim Hunt ENQUIRIES Francesca Thomas WEB EDITOR Sophie Billington THANKS ALSO TO Marlous Veldt, Merle Büter, Emma Kerrison, Katy Davies, Alyson Tyler, Joel David Taylor, Katie Percival, Charu Mittal, Fiona Hobson All material correct one month before cover date and © Ethical Consumer Research Association Ltd. ISSN 0955 8608 Printed with vegetable ink by RAP Spiderweb Ltd, c/o the Commercial Centre, Clowes Centre, Hollinwood, Oldham OL9 7LY. 0161 947 3700 PAPER 100% post-consumer waste, chlorine-free and sourced from the only UK paper merchant supplying only recycled papers – Paperback ( RETAIL DISTRIBUTION is handled by Central Books on 0845 458 9911. Ethical Consumer is a member of INK (independent news collective), an association of radical and alternative publishers. We are a Living Wage employer, a multi-stakeholder co-op, and Fair Tax Mark accredited. ABOUT THE ADVERTISERS ECRA checks out advertisers before accepting their ads and reserves the right to refuse any advert. COVERED IN PREVIOUS PRODUCT GUIDES Ecotricity (189), Green Stationery (185), Infinity Wholefoods (178), Kingfisher Toothpaste (184), Pacari Chocolates (188), Vegetarian Shoes (185). OTHER ADVERTISERS Big Exchange, Green Building Store, Investing Ethically, Practical Action, The Gorilla Organisation, The Path, Womankind. We are an independent, not-for-profit, multi- stakeholder co-operative founded in 1989 and based in Manchester. Our primary goal is making global businesses more sustainable through consumer pressure. Our mission is to: 1 Help consumers to challenge corporate power by using their economic vote every time they go shopping. 2 Democratise the market by enabling consumers to assert their own ethical values by using our shopping guides. 3 Have a fully transparent ranking system. All our data is available to subscribers. 4 Engage with companies by telling them why we are buying or not buying their products. We also send them detailed questions about their policy and practice on ethical issues. 5 Push for wider political action and legislative change. Ethical consumerism is not a replacement for other forms of political action. But it is an important additional way for people to exert their influence. HOW TO CONTACT US Unit 21, 41 Old Birley Street, Manchester, M15 5RF 0161 226 2929 — 10-5pm — general — subscriptions WHAT IS ETHICAL CONSUMER? This issue is focused on decarbonising your home, with guides to heat pumps, solar panels, solar thermal and electricity and gas suppliers. The biggest priority for consumers is really heating. You can help a little bit, but UK energy generation will mostly have to be decarbonised at the national level, as our big renewable resource lies off the coast. And it is largely being done through regulation. In this area, voting with your vote is more important than voting with your wallet. However, there is only one place where you can have a warm home, and that is at home. Heating is not very sexy – it’s hard to feel awe at the austere beauty of a heat pump or some cavity wall insulation. Surveys always show a general lack of knowledge or interest on decarbonising heating compared to other areas. But we hope to generate some more sparks of interest with this issue of the magazine, and to let you know more about what your options are. We have decided to stop covering gas boilers, in recognition of the fact that we all need to be getting off them soon if we are to tackle climate change. Taking it to the courts Climate change is also, increasingly, being fought through the courts. By July 2020, there had been 1,587 worldwide cases of climate litigation. 1 Courts have even begun ordering governments to cut emissions: in 2019 the Dutch government lost an appeal in its supreme court and was thus obliged to cut the Netherlands’ greenhouse gas emissions by 25% on 1990 levels by the end of 2020. We report in the electricity guide on page 16 on another case that is ongoing in the Netherlands, which could have important implications for ethical consumers. It is being fought by the same lawyer who won the 25% cut, who is looking to repeat the success with a corporation. Royal Dutch Shell is being prosecuted for its role in climate change, with activists demanding not financial compensation, but that it cut emissions by 45% by 2030 from 2019 levels. If Shell loses it could have widespread ramifications for how we can force companies to act. Sara Shaw, Climate Justice and Energy program coordinator at Friends of the Earth International, one of the NGOs bringing the case, said: “Our hope is that this case sparks a wave of climate litigation that can hold other corporations to account and bring on the end of the fossil fuel age.” The verdict on the case is expected in May. The growth in the Ethical Markets We also report in this magazine on our latest Ethical Markets report, which shows continued rapid growth in ethical-focused buying. And the figures that are available since the start of the pandemic seem to suggest that Covid is only increasing interest in ethical consumption. Like this one, our next magazine will also be mostly covering quite large purchases – we’re going to look at washing machines, dishwashers, fridges and cookers. But so everyone doesn’t drown in white goods, we’re going to cover vacuum cleaners and beer as well. See you then. Ref: 1 London School of Economics, 2020 Global trends in climate change litigation