What Assures Consumers?, a US/UK survey to assess the attitudes of consumers towards climate change, releases its interim findings today ahead of the EU/G8 Energy Efficiency Conference in Berlin (20-21 April), and the final report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) into the Mitigation of Climate Change (30 April).
A key focus of What Assures Consumers? is how companies go about assuring the public on social and environmental issues via labels, media campaigns, and celebrity endorsements. The survey was undertaken by GlobeScan in March 2007 with a representative sample of 2,734 from the US and UK general public. The What Assures Consumers? interim findings show that:
· Two thirds of consumers agree everyone needs to take more responsibility for their personal contribution to global warming. (Combined 65.7%: US 61.6%, UK 69.7%).
· Two thirds of consumers believe corporations need to take global warming more seriously (Combined 66.4%: US 63.2%, UK 69.5%).
· Sixty per cent of consumers want companies to provide more information at the point of sale about the effects of their products on climate change (Combined 60.4%: US 56.3%, UK 64.4%). …
but… · Over half of consumers believe governments should be forcing businesses to phase out products that contribute to global warming (Combined 51.5%: US 45.7%, UK 57.1%).
· Seventy per cent of consumers want climate change claims made by businesses to be proven by independent third parties (Combined 70.0%: US 63.0%, UK 76.8%).
Philip Monaghan, a Director at AccountAbility says: “The message is clear - consumers can help to solve the problem but it’s only fair governments and companies ‘raise their game’ too. Unhelpful choices need ‘removing from the shelves’ and business claims ‘backed up’. This is a mandate from consumers that they expect politicians, industry and civil society to work together so it’s easy for people to exercise a positive choice.”
Richard Lloyd, Consumers International Director General, speaking from the G8 conference says: “These findings clearly show that consumers want third-party proof of the climate change claims of businesses. Independently verified information about the climate change impact of products needs to be clearly available at the point of sale. Such measures are vital if we, as consumers, are to feel assured about reducing our personal contribution to global warming.”
Barry Clavin, Ethical Policies Manager, The Co-operative Group comments: "The evidence from the UK is that where the ethical or eco-choice has become the market leader, for example in sales of A-rated energy fridges (which account for some 60 per cent of the market), this has been underpinned by an EU labeling scheme, inefficient products being removed from sale and the support of well targeted subsidies. The continued efforts of far-sighted, highly motivated consumers need to be leveraged and supported with business innovation and government intervention and is why the Co-operative has just announced plans to end the sale of energy inefficient kitchen appliances.”
Deborah Evans, Head of Corporate Reporting and Assurance at Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance Ltd, comments: “Consumers want to trust 'green claims' and independent verification gives them this confidence. Business will gain too, because better, verified data allows them to improve their commercial strategies and develop products and services which deliver a positive environmental benefit.”
Rowland Hill, Corporate Social Responsibility/ Sustainability Manager, Marks & Spencer comments: “Baring out our own experience, the majority of consumers are keen to respond to the threat of climate change. The research conducted by Accountability and Consumers International illustrates the need for Government, companies and other stakeholders to work together to provide consumers with consistent and reliable information about how they can reduce their personal carbon footprints.”
Further findings from What Assures Consumers? will be released in the coming months. This will include how consumer claims of trust/distrust translate into actual purchasing behaviour and what barriers need to be overcome for them take action. The broader work focuses on three core areas: (a) roles and responsibilities; (b) communication pathways; and (c) information providers. The full findings will be published in June 2007.
Posted on 23rd April 2007
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