Results of a poll of 12,000 citizens in 11 countries were released last week that suggest that there is both growing public reluctance to make personal sacrifices and a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the major international efforts now underway to battle climate change.
The Climate Confidence Monitor 2008, which surveyed 12 markets worldwide, including the United States, reveals that consumer expectations are proving resilient to the current economic crisis. Forty three per cent of those surveyed chose climate change ahead of global economic stability when asked about their top three concerns, despite the survey taking place in the midst of the financial market turmoil in September-October 2008.
However, the survey also found that people’s willingness to make changes to their lives and reduce the impacts of climate change is falling. People are most willing to make changes to their lifestyles, secondly to spend extra time, and thirdly to spend extra money . Across the nine markets covered in both 2007 and 2008, the proportion of people who say they are willing to:
• make changes to their lifestyle to
help reduce climate change has fallen
from 58% to 47%
• spend extra time has decreased from
45% to 37%
• spend extra money has dropped from
28% to 20%.
This downward trend shows a lack of momentum for a consumer-led approach to tackling climate change, further emphasising the need for decisive leadership.
The picture that has emerged from this year’s Climate Conﬁdence Monitor is one of consumers stalling in their own efforts and not appreciating those of their governments or industry. The report encourages governments and companies to play a greater role both in creating low-carbon opportunities and in helping consumers better understand the options and implications. The report also suggests that business has a key role to play in making it easier for individuals to make low-carbon choices.
The survey was sponsored by the HSBC Climate Partnership comprised of the financial institution HSBC and The Climate Group, Earthwatch Institute, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and WWF. Beginning in 2007, the five-year program seeks to inspire action by individuals, businesses and governments on climate change issues.