Monday, April 23, 2007

Consumers and Climate Change: UK and US compared.

This post is derived from a survey from

Under the by-line "Green, Prove it" the headlines from the results of a recent survey of consumers in the UK and the US are as follows:

Independent verification
70% of consumers want climate change claims made by businesses to be proven by independent third parties. (63.0% in the US, 76.8% in the UK)

Government intervention
Over 50% of consumers believe governments should be forcing businesses to phase out products that contribute to global warming. (45.7% in the US, 57.1% in the UK)

Better information
60% of consumers want companies to provide more information at the point of sale about the effects of their products on climate change. (56.3% in the US, 64.4% in the UK)

About the Survey:
The survey was undertaken by GlobeScan in March 2007 with a representative sample of 2,734 from the US and UK general public aged 18+. The research was conducted online amongst 1,347 and 1,387 participants in the US and UK respectively. With a margin of error of 2.7%, 19 and 20 times in each country respectively.

So far, so predictable. It is no surprise for example that consumers want proof of a firm's "green credentials".

What is more interesting is the significant differences in the headline figures for the UK and the US. In answer to all 3 questions UK consumers appear to be more environmentally concerned. Looking at this another way, perhaps this only reflects a difference in attitudes towards the role of government with Americans far happier with the idea of "small" government and minimal intervention.

There are some other interesting questions in this survey such as:

Governments should force companies to phase out products that contribute to global warming so that I can make better choices as a consumer.

As predicted, 45.7% of US citizens and 57.1% of UK citizens agreed that governments should be forcing businesses to phase out products that contribute to global warming.

When the questions examine consumer attitudes more closely things get a little more worrying. For example:

1. 47% of Americans believe Global warming is a natural event, not one caused by humans.

2. 55.5% of Americans and 63.9% of UK citizens DISAGREED with the statement "Global warming is such a big problem that there is no point in consumers trying to take action".

Finally, the last two tables of this report talk about consumer behaviour. When asked "Which of the following have you done in the past 6 months, or intend to do in the next six months? In the US or UK..." the results, although not showing great differences, still have the UK consumers being the most proactive.

The full report and tables can be found HERE.[PDF]

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