Global Environmental Concerns Growing

GfK Roper Consulting announced highlights from its global and U.S. environmental studies ahead of the company’s 2008 Green Gauge report. The findings reveal that concerns over pollution and climate change are rising worldwide and people are looking first to their national governments to take the lead in eco-responsibility.

Taking the Global “Green” Temperature
Though inflation and high prices top the list of concerns among the global population (41%), worry over environmental pollution is rising worldwide (25% in 2008, up from 22% last year). Indeed, Japan lists pollution as its number one concern, followed by climate change. In comparison, pollution and climate change appear as number 11 and 15, respectively, among America’s list of concerns.

Despite the growing presence of climate change concerns on the global radar, less than one third of the total population (29%) feel they can personally do a “fair amount” or “a lot” to improve the environment. Thailand is most optimistic about its ability to positively effect climate change at 63%, followed by Japan (53%), Korea (51%), Mexico (48%) and Brazil (46%). The U.S., meanwhile, aligns with the global average of 29%.

Who Should Carry the Environmental Torch?
While the number of people who agree they can personally improve the environment is a worldwide minority, one in three global respondents say it is national governments that are expected to take the lead on climate change and warming. Comparatively, 14% believe environmental groups should take the wheel, 10% state business and industry must lead the pack and just 6% believe local government should step up as the primary group responsible. Scientists and inventors, individuals and international organizations all received 9% of the global vote.

In planning eco-action, however, is important for these stakeholders to balance economic needs against environmental needs. Indeed, one in four Americans say “first comes economic security and well-being, then we can worry about environmental problem,” up 12 percentage points from 2007. U.S. corporations face additional challenges in carrying out their eco-responsibilities, particularly as 70% of Americans say that business and industry are not fulfilling their responsibility to protect the environment (up two points from last year). Furthermore, 69% say that businesses engage in environmentally friendly behavior to promote their image, while only 29% say they do so for the good of the environment.

“Though worries over the health of the global economy are weighing on many, consumers are not necessarily pulling back from eco-responsibility,” explains Tim Kenyon, Senior Market Analyst with GfK Roper Consulting. “People are increasingly foregoing unnecessary trips, reducing their driving distances and cutting back on restaurant-dining all of which have a positive impact not only on the pocketbook but also, perhaps as an unintended benefit, on the environment. In today’s uncertain marketplace, companies should take note to appeal to the consumer’s need to save green while being green.” In addition to these findings, the 2008 GfK Roper Green Gauge Report, segments consumers based upon their eco-behaviors, mapping out American’s various “shades of green” to help marketers understand what the green movement means for their business.

-September 2008

This content was provided by GfK Custom Research North America. Visit their website at or read their blog.

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