Consumers unconvinced on climate change

A recurring theme at the CBI Summit on Climate Change yesterday (November 17) was the consumer.

While businesses and governments are looking at what they are doing to put the the climate change issue on boardroom and policy agendas, the view was that consumers are not doing enough to change their behaviour.

The view of businesses was that consumers are not ready to accept a rise in price or a lowering of service for goods and services that are environmentally cleaner.

In an entertaining presentation, Ben Page, chief executive of Ipsos MORI, said like death and taxes, people knew climate change was inevitable but would rather not think about it.

While 90% of scientists agree that climate change is a real threat, most people focus on the few that don't, he said, suggesting media reports were to some extent to blame.

In a survey Ipsos MORI conducted in 2008, 42% of respondents said that climate change might not be as bad as people say. 50% of people surveyed in 2010 thought that politicians used climate change to distract them from other issues.

When buying products, consumers were found to be interested in making ethical choices, such as buying Fair Trade products and thought food was over packaged.

However, while most people said they were concerned about climate change in general, they did very little to combat it through their behaviour.

Companies that were successful in getting consumers to buy greener products did this by promoting particular brands.

The research concluded that companies can get consumers to change their behaviour through campaigns which inform, enable and incentivise but this needs to be backed up with legislation. Alison Brown



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