James Forsyth

Nudging us to go green

Nudging us to go green
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When the Tories first got interested in nudge theory in the summer of 2008 there was some sneering and questioning of what practical policy applications it had. But Grant Shapps' speech today on the Tories' Green Deal shows how nudging can be applied in government. Shapps proposes that consumers be reminded of the Green Deal offer - your house retrofitted to cut its energy usage at no immediate cost to you - every time they use the stores of one of the firms involved in the scheme. This should, in theory, boost take up of the scheme.

The Green Deal, the brainchild of Greg Clark, is one of the Tories' neatest policies. Under it, consumers can have their houses insulated and the like by a firm taking part in the scheme and have the costs of this paid back merely through a proportion of the savings on their energy bill. This will cut carbon emissions and lower energy bills at no cost to either the government or consumers.