Business trusted more than government on climate change

A growing number of consumers are putting their faith in businesses to tackle climate change, believing them to be better managed and more accountable than government on the issue.

A wide-ranging global study of public attitudes found that the business community is now expected to go beyond minimising its impact on the environment, by taking on duties that were once the task of elected leaders in regard to addressing climate crisis.

As public mistrust in government runs high, over two-thirds of respondents (69%) felt that businesses have a responsibility to make the world a better place by operating in a way that advances societal interests.

Just 39% of respondents expressed moderate faith in their national governments. Many cited a lack of leadership and a perceived inability of political leaders to respond quickly and effectively to the challenges faced.

On the flipside, over half felt that corporations have a lot more power than governments when it comes to issues of climate change through being more nimble and influential as entities.

The survey also found evidence of a new, emerging approach to citizenship is emerging – one that is linked not so much to voting as to doing.

Responsible consumption was cited as the third most important choice in being a good citizen, behind self-sufficiency and behaving ethically.

One of the clearest examples of this shift was illustrated by the majority of respondents who felt that a person who recycles regularly but never votes is a better citizen than one who votes in every electric but makes no effort to reduce their waste.

Indeed, many consumers are now exercising greater power through their purchasing decisions by paying more attention to the environmental and social impacts of the products they buy.

Social media in particular is fuelling this shift – the majority of respondents believed it gave them an “extraordinary ability to influence others and create change”.

The study was carried out by marketing agency Havas and gathered opinion from over 10,000 adults across 31 countries.

Maxine Perella

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