Public perception on where environmental responsibility falls is ‘skewed’



New research shows that public perception is “skewed” when it comes to environmental responsibility. Whilst the public sees business at the heart of the economic recovery, they do not see them as key to fixing environmental problems.

Just 5% of those questioned for a Carbon Trust poll see businesses as being most effective in helping the environment, when compared to environmental pressure groups, academics and the government.

The figure suggests that even companies communicating their sustainable actions are not directly associated with taking responsibility for the environment. This is highlighted by the fact that over two-thirds (68%) of respondents were unable to name a company taking the issue of environmental sustainability seriously.

Tom Delay, chief executive of the Carbon Trust, said, “Whilst it’s clear that consumers still care about the environmental future, their perspective on where the responsibility falls is skewed. It cannot be solely down to environmental groups to shoulder the weight of protecting our planet’s natural resources.

“Businesses have an enormous role to play here and need to be seen to be doing their part.”

Despite the skewed perception, the demand for green products appears to be increasing. Some 27% of consumers said they are more likely to by a sustainable product or service when compared to five years ago.

The biggest reason for doing so was concern about the personal impact of what they buy on the environment, accounting for 45% of answers. In addition, 43% indicated that they lead a more sustainable life now than they did 5 years ago.

The poll also revealed that the UK public is confident that the economy can be fixed and are looking to businesses, consumers and governments respectively to take control of this.

Delay added, “These signs of confidence in economic future success should strengthen the case for a more sustainable future.

As businesses look for more ways to grow, sustainability should become a golden opportunity for investment, allowing them to become more resilient to future environmental resource shocks and to cut their costs and grow their revenues. The smart companies will invest now and put sustainability inside their businesses.”

Further reading:

We need more people with complete sustainability literacy

90% of investors say CSR and sustainability reports are ‘essential’

CSR and sustainability practices found to boost public perception of firms

Reflections on a debate: has CSR reached its sell-by date?

The Guide to Corporate Social Responsibility 2013


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