The climate is changing so should we!

Yes, they do, and resoundingly so. However, it’s been a popular belief that most Americans don’t care about climate change.  Two new studies show how this idea is all wrong.

‘False social reality’ has obscured people’s perceptions across the US.  Recent polls by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication showed that “Americans almost universally underestimate the extent of climate concern among their compatriots. They also underestimate the extent of public support—at the state and national level alike—for policy measures to address the climate emergency.”[1]

The study also shows that “66 to 80% of people in the U.S. support major climate mitigation policies, but participants in the new study estimated that only between 37 and 43% do so. A range of 80 to 90% of those polled by the researchers underestimated the U.S. population’s climate concern and support for major climate mitigation policies.”

The disconnect on such a critical topic is disturbing.  It’s also frightening that most business leaders seem to share this disconnect.  It doesn’t look as if they realize that both their employees and customers alike are concerned about climate change and want to take action.  They’re just not sure how to go about doing it.

For instance, 36% of consumers say the biggest barrier to sustainable action is that it is too inconvenient, while 41% say the biggest barrier to sustainable action is they don’t know where to start.

According to a Shelton Group report published in early 2022, a third of Americans want to be seen as being green.[2]  We know that when a trend begins to reach this level, it’s only going to continue growing, a good reason for businesses to get onboard.

Consumers want a voice, and they want brands to hear it.  By January 2022, some brands were beginning to see that consumers were putting their wallets where their values are, and smart brands were addressing that need.

Do Businesses Care About Climate Change?

Regrettably, most companies are lagging behind in making the necessary changes in operations that would help them meet ESG goals, and even most of those who are making changes aren’t concerned with getting the consumer involved.

Are businesses simply saying that Americans don’t care so they don’t have to change the way they do business, or are business leaders as unsure as the average American about what meaningful steps to take to combat climate disruption?

In an article published by WorldBiz in October 2022, results from a study conducted by global consulting firm Protiviti were shared that indicated the business outlook of the future of ESG in 2032 and beyond.  The ESG survey, conducted in collaboration with the Global Centre on Healthcare and Urbanization at Kellogg College, University of Oxford, U.K., found that while “98% of global business leaders cite ESG as a top factor in business success, only 25% of North American respondents think that prioritizing an ESG strategy will be an ‘extremely important’ focus by 2032, compared to 71% of their counterparts in the Asia-Pacific region and 58% in Europe.[3]

Protiviti calls this an ‘enthusiasm gap’ that shows how “a majority of North American business leaders are out of step with other leaders globally in establishing and/or achieving ESG goals.”

The article continues by adding “regarding environmental factors specifically, 37% of North American executives shared that they believe their corporate greenhouse gas emissions will decline by 2032, whereas Asia Pacific and European leaders were much more optimistic at 88% and 81%, respectively.”