About us

Climate concern rises in the East

New research shows Asia's young adults most likely to favour brands that reduce their carbon emissions

London, 2nd April, 2012:  A new study from the Carbon Trust reveals a divide between Generation Y's[1] attitude to carbon reduction in the East and West.  The study, which questioned over 2,500 young people aged 18-25, across five continents in Brazil, China, South Africa, South Korea, UK and the USA, sought to understand whether tomorrow's consumers are concerned about climate change and will favour brands that reduce their carbon emissions.

The research, which was commissioned by the Carbon Trust and conducted by TNS, reveals that Generation Y in China is leading the call for brands to reduce their impact on the environment.  83% of young people questioned in China say they would be more loyal to a brand if they could see it was reducing its carbon footprint, compared to 73% in Korea, 55% in the UK and 57% in the USA.  60% of Chinese young adults who participated in the research say they would stop buying a product if its manufacturer refused to commit to measuring and reducing its carbon footprint, followed by 57% in Brazil, 53% in Korea and 35% and 36% in the US and UK respectively.  

Tom Delay, Chief Executive of the Carbon Trust, comments, "These new findings are startling. 60% of young adults questioned in China would stop buying a product if its manufacturer refused to commit to measuring and reducing its carbon footprint, compared to just 35% of those in the U.S. Perhaps it is the Chinese, and not the U.S. consumer, that really holds the key to unlocking the mass demand for the new low carbon products necessary to deliver an environmentally sustainable economy. If global brands don't build international carbon reduction strategies even faster, they risk missing out on the spending power of emerging economies."

There is also evidence that young adults want brands to be clearly accountable for their action on carbon. 81% of those questioned in Brazil said companies should be obliged to provide proof of their policy to reduce their carbon footprint, higher than any other nation. 68% of those surveyed worldwide want to see companies' carbon impact quantified by an independent organisation. This is highest in China at 84% and lowest in the USA at 55%. Across all the markets, on average a third of young consumers (33%) say they are prepared to buy a more expensive product if it has a lower carbon footprint.

How do today's young consumers perceive carbon footprinting?

When asked which products and categories can do the most to reduce their carbon footprint 68% of young consumers cited consumer electronics companies in the top three, followed by consumer healthcare brands (50%), clothes manufacturers and retailers (50%), and food manufacturers and retailers (48%).

Through using its carbon reduction and footprinting services, Carbon Trust customers around the world have put £3.7 billion on their bottom line and cut their carbon emissions by 38 million tonnes.

"Carbon footprinting makes perfect business sense. We are increasingly advising businesses overseas, and international brands, on their carbon reduction strategies, as the financial and reputational benefits of lowering emissions go global," says Delay.

Later this week, the Carbon Trust will launch its Standard in Korea and announce the first four Asian companies to receive the Carbon Trust Standard for reducing their organisational carbon footprints.  And today it opens a novel new exhibition in London to showcase company action on carbon.  The world's first 'Carbon Footprinting' Gallery, will explore the proactive steps global brands, including Tesco, Danone, Manchester United and BT, are taking to lower their carbon footprint.  The exhibition takes place at the Future Gallery in London from 2nd April - 4th April.

Key Statistics from the Research

Across the six markets, the research suggests that...

  • 78% want their favourite brands to help reduce their carbon footprint.  This is highest in China (88%), followed by South Africa (86%), Brazil (84%), Korea (81%) and USA and UK (66%)
  • 70% would be more loyal to a brand if they could see it is reducing its carbon footprint.  This is highest in China at 83%, followed by Brazil at 77%
  • 68% of young adults questioned globally would like to see companies' carbon impact quantified by an independent organisation - this is highest in China at 84%and lowest in the USA at 55%, in the UK it is 56%
  • Young adults believe consumer electronics (68%), consumer healthcare brands (50%),clothes manufacturers and retailers (50%),and food manufacturers and retailers (48%),have the greatest responsibility to reduce carbon
  • 46% would find carbon footprinting on packaging useful and it would influence their purchase.  This rises to 63%in Brazil, 53%in China, 52% South Africa.33%in the UK and 34%in the USA would find it useful
  • 33% would buy a more expensive product if it had a lower carbon footprint - of those prepared to spend more, they would be prepared to pay a mean average of 28% more for lower carbon products 
  • 29% of young adults globally want to reduce their carbon footprint but are confused about how to go about it
  • 28% of young adults globally are trying to reduce their carbon footprint but feel they could do more and 21% feel they are doing their bit to reduce their carbon footprint


Infographic - How do today's young consumers perceive carbon footprinting? (PDF)

Survey results - Global survey of young adults' perceptions of carbon and climate change (PDF)

1. Males and Females aged 18-25 

About the Research

The research was conducted online by TNS using Lightspeed Research and its preferred partner panels between 24th February and 6th March 2012. Males and females aged 18-25 were interviewed across six different countries -US (501), UK (501), South Korea (500), Brazil (500), China (500) and South Africa (300). Due to the nature of online research, the data is indicative of the attitudes and behaviour of young people in these countries.

About the Carbon Trust

The Carbon Trust is a not for profit group with the mission to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy.

We advise businesses, governments and the public sector on their opportunities in a sustainable, low carbon world.

We measure and certify the environmental footprint of organisations, supply chains and products.

We help develop and deploy low carbon technologies and solutions, from energy efficiency to renewable power.