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Sustainability blame game: Consumers more likely to think their country is suffering from

14 July 2021: Consumers around the globe are more likely to think that their country is suffering from climate change than causing it, according to the latest research from the newly-released Mintel Sustainability Barometer. An average of 44% of consumers globally say the country where they live is suffering from climate change while an average of 33% believe that the country where they live is contributing to climate change.

Consumers from Italy (20%), Brazil (21%), South Korea (24%) and Spain (29%) are among the least likely to believe their country is contributing to climate change. By contrast, those from the UK (44%), Germany (45%) and US (46%) are among the most likely to believe their nations have a role to play, peaking in Canada where more than half (51%) of consumers believe this to be true.

Richard Cope, Senior Trends Consultant, Mintel Consulting, said “There seems to be a sustainability gap – a striking difference between consumers’ experience with the causes of climate change and the reality of where the responsibilities lie. We see a divide in some major producer countries like Brazil where consumers view culpability for climate change through deforestation as an external problem, which is actually due to overseas demand for meat, soya and timber. In the case of many European markets, their emissions are exported to manufacturing countries, like China, but that seems lost on consumers when they consider and apportion blame for climate change responsibility.

When it comes to who is most responsible for sustainability issues, consumers say companies are the most responsible for a whole host of issues. Almost half (48%) of global consumers believe companies are responsible for increasing the amount of packaging that is recycled, while only a quarter (25%) believe responsibility lies with consumers, and just a fifth (20%) with governments. Meanwhile, two in five (41%) global consumers believe that companies are responsible for reducing emissions from air transport, compared to 36% who believe it’s up to governments, and just 12% who think it is the responsibility of consumers.

When asked what encourages them to buy products or services which claim to benefit/protect the environment, consumers are most likely to want information on how their purchase has a direct impact, such as one tree planted per purchase (48%) and this is highest in India at 56%. They are also looking for labelling to show the environmental impact, such as CO2 emitted (47%). Just over two in five (42%) are looking for information measuring impact with quantities they can understand, such as litres of water used or distance travelled in kilometres and this is highest in China (54%). Meanwhile, 41% are looking for recognisable certification to prove their standards, such as B-corp.

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