Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

Carbon Consciousness, Consumer Choice and Electricity (4CE)


The European Commission has included electricity disclosure in its proposed Directive on the liberalisation of energy markets. At present, few consumers are aware of the sources of their electricity supply, nor the different environmental implications these sources can have.

This project, Consumer Choice and Carbon Consciousness for Electricity (4C Electricity), has worked towards the development of an electricity disclosure label that will provide customers with details of the source of their electricity supply, and its resulting environmental implications, enabling them to make informed choices about the electricity tariff they wish to use. It also acts as an important educational tool, raising awareness and helping to create a 'carbon conscious' society. The results of the project has led to planned electricity disclosure being introduced into Europe and due to be implemented into Member State legislation by July 2004 and can be viewed in the final report.

Led by the ECI, this pan-European research consisted of a consortium of organisations from Sweden, Germany, Austria, Hungary and the UK.

The project was split into 3 phases:

Phase 1:

A study of the ability of suppliers to access and provide the information needed for an electricity label within the context of liberalisation.

Phase 2:

A study of what the label will mean for consumers and what consumers want. To what extent would such a label provide the information they needed to make value decisions such as switching electricity supplier? The phase 2 report presents the results of studies carried out under PHASE II of the 4C Electricity project exploring information needs and attitudes towards electricity disclosure amongst consumers in Europe.

Phase 3:

Develop policies to maximise the impact of the label, investigating the need for associated policies such as advertising standards. This phase also views the label as part of a policy framework towards a lower carbon future, and suggests a policy toolbox of market transformation policies that can be employed to build on the label.

Consumer Information and Electricity:

Under a separate contract funded by the European Commission, the ECI and Oeko Institute are developing the electricity disclosure guidelines for the Member States. Contact Dr Brenda Boardman or Jane Palmer for more information.

Further Links

Project details