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Our Climate Action Survey - current behaviours and future intentions

In December 2020 we carried out our climate action survey to better understand individuals sustainability behaviour; knowing that in the face of climate change and the pandemic, individuals are striving to ‘build back better', and only 9% of Britons want life to return to “normal” after the outbreak is over.

The disruption that coronavirus has caused on societal habits provides us with a unique opportunity to embed new behaviours; focused on community, planet and people. Ahead of 2021, we wanted to better understand which behaviours individuals are currently doing and which ones they are likely to adopt, or not. 

The insights from the survey provide us with a better understanding of how we can drive change; which areas individuals are most likely to act upon and where they aspire to do more, so that we can support them in doing so.

The survey focuses on understanding:

1. Individuals’ values around sustainability
2. How the climate crisis makes individuals feel
3. Individuals’ current sustainable behaviours
4. Individuals’ intended future behaviours.
 
Just under 1,000 respondents completed the survey, 982, 68% were female with ages from 18 to over 75, the majority from the South West, but some from further afield. We contextuliased values by asking respondents 'Which is more important, social, environmental sustainability or both equally? 72% responded equally, 17% environmental, 10% social. 
 
We assessed individuals current behaviours and their intended behaviours by categorising sustainable actions into the following, as per Brands for Good's behaviours.  
  • Reduce water and food waste 
  • Recycle and choose products with recycled content, whenever possible. 
  • Switch to renewable energy and conserve energy 
  • Eat more fruits, vegetables, and plant-based foods
  • Purchase durable products, not disposable
  • Choose nature friendly products that protect habitats and biodiversity. 
 
The insights from the survey provide us with a better understanding of how we can drive change; which areas individuals are least likely to act upon and where they aspire to do more. 
 
Insights in a nutshell: 
 
For most people, living sustainably is an often occurance, as opposed to always or sometimes. 
 
The public are embracing certain sustainable actions, i.e. reducing food and water waste, recycling and buying durable, non disposable products as well as switching to renewable energy.  What do people aspire to do in the future? Largely to do more of the same. 
 
There are real opportunities for companies to help close the gap between actions and intentions in key areas like favouring nature friendly products and eating more plant based foods. 
 
It is clear the public view sustainability as part of their daily lives and they are looking in the main for The Government and large organisaitons to take responsibility and deliver impact. 
 
It is also clear that the public have mixed feelings, mostly negative, regarding climate change, providing organisations with opportunties to re-address perceptions, inspiring change by offering sustainable choices. 
 
As the public look to organisations to help support them in delivering their intentions, brands have the ability to strengthen consumer relationships whilst supporting their own sustainability goals. 
 
The role of engagement, sustainability literacy, collaborative initiatives and behavioural science play a crucial role in developing intentions into actions, evidencing the power of the collective and driving positive change. 
 
We know 60% of the necessary carbon reductions are needed in the next 15 years and systemic changes required in the 2020's, based on the 6th carbon budget; now is the time to show how individuals and SME's can play their part and support their communities to build back better, collectively. 
 
If you would like more information, please email info@actionnetzero.org
 

Individuals’ values around sustainability

Thinking of climate change, the planet and protecting it for the future, how much of a concern is this for you personally?

17% said it was the issue/one of the issues I am most concerned about 

44% stated that it was a big concern for me 

15% stated it was a concern but I'm not doing much about it 

18% said it is somewhat of a concern to me

4% said it was little or no concern 

2% said they don't believe in climate change

We also asked respondents some questions regarding how the current pandemic was affecting them.  

1. Covid has made me more aware of global issue.

80% agreed, either somewhat or strongly

2. Given all that's going on in the world, I find myself just wanting to go back to basics. 

79% agreed, either somewhat or strongly

3. I feel the good life is further out of reach than it used to be. 

62% agreed, either somewhat or strongly

We can see that the pandemic has made things feel very different, out of disruption comes recalibration? 

Individuals’ feelings around sustainability

This question provides great insight into the complex emotions that people are currently feeling about climate change.

With only 17% of respondents saying they were optimistic, 16% being determined and 3% confident there is a clear role for all brands to strengthen consumer relationships and evidence how they are committing to action on climate change. 

Positive feelings:

17% said they were optimistic, hopeful

16% said they were determined, motivated

3% said they were confident, reassured, calm

Negative feelings: 

28% said they were overwhelmed

17% said they were sad, upset

15% said they were anxious, scared, worried

12% said they were angry, frustrated

11% said they were resigned

9% said they were tired, fatigued

9% said they were guilty

7% said they were sceptical

4% said they were bored, indifferent, not interested.

Individuals’ current sustainable behaviours

How often do you currently behave this way to protect the planet, its people and resources?

Our survey reveals which sustainable behaviours are being adopted and which are less so. 

We asked respondents to say whether they Always, Often, Sometimes, Rarely or Never behave this way, in context of the following sustainable actions: 

  • Reduce water and food waste 
  • Recycle and choose products with recycled content, whenever possible. 
  • Switch to renewable energy, conserve energy 
  • Eat more fruits, vegetables, and plant-based foods
  • Purchase durable products, not disposable. 
  • Choose nature friendly products that protect habitats and biodiversity. 

Over half, 52% of our respondents stated that they Often adopt these sustainable behaviours. 

Out of the 6 sustainable behaviour categories, the following 'always' behave in this way: 

24% always  - Reduce water and food waste 

18% always  - Recycle and choose products with recycled content, whenever possible. 

16% always  - Switch to renewable energy, conserve energy 

16% always  - Eat fruits, vegetables, and plant-based food

14% always  - Purchase durable products, not disposable

11% always  - Choose nature friendly products that protect habitats and biodiversity. 

 

Individuals’ intended future behaviours.

How much do you intend to behave this way in the future to protect the planet, its people and resources?

We asked respondents to say whether they Strongly intend to do this, Occassionally intend to do this or Never intend to do this, in context of the following sustainable actions: 

  • Reduce water and food waste 
  • Recycle and choose products with recycled content, whenever possible. 
  • Switch to renewable energy, conserve energy 
  • Eat more fruits, vegetables, and plant-based foods
  • Purchase durable products, not disposable. 
  • Choose nature friendly products that protect habitats and biodiversity. 

Collectively, we can see that the majority of respondent strongly intend to adopt sustainable behaviours. Research tells us that intentions do not  always correlate to action, which means there is an opportunity for brands to plan how they can support and reward behavioural change. 

61%  - Strongly intend to do this 

32%  Occassionally intend to do this

4%    - Never intend to do this 

Intentions reveal strong support for: 

78% Strongly intend to do this - Reduce water and food waste 

69% Strongly intend to do this - Purchase durable products, not disposable. 

59% Strongly intend to do this-  Switch to renewable energy, conserve energy 

57% Strongly intend to do this - Choose nature friendly products that protect habitats and biodiversity. 

53% Strongly intend to do this - Recycle and choose products with recycled content, whenever possible. 

53% Strongly intend to do this - Eat more fruits, vegetables, and plant-based food

Who should be responsible?

When it comes to addressing the climate crisis, who do you feel should be responsible?

Respondents were given the following options: 

  • National governments

  • Larger companies and businesses

  • Smaller businesses

  • Local authorities/ cities

  • Individuals, through their everyday choices

  • Individuals, when organised collectively

  • Global organisations and institutions

  • Charities and NGOs

  • The media

  • Other, please specify 

Respondents demonstrated through their answers a theme of shared responsibility with key focus on: 

51% - National government 

14% - Large companies and business

13% - Individuals through their everyday choices

9%  Global organisations

Who can have the most impact?

When it comes to addressing the climate crisis, which of the following do you believe can have the greatest positive impact?

Respondents were given the following options: 

  • National governments

  • Larger companies and businesses

  • Smaller businesses

  • Local authorities/ cities

  • Individuals, through their everyday choices

  • Individuals, when organised collectively

  • Global organisations and institutions

  • Charities and NGOs

  • The media

  • Other, please specify 

Respondents demonstrated through their answers a theme of shared responsibility, with key focus on: 

27% - National government 

23% - Large companies and business

19% - Individuals through their everyday choices

11%  Global organisations