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Two thirds of public unable to name a company that is taking environmental sustainability seriously

New research reveals that while public see business as at the heart of economic recovery, they do not yet see business as key to fixing our environmental problems. 

New research released today reveals that, while the public see business as at the heart of the economic recovery, they do not yet see business as key to fixing our environmental problems, with over two thirds (68%) of respondents unable to name a company taking the issue of environmental sustainability seriously.

The research, conducted amongst 1,819 adults for the Carbon Trust by YouGov found that only 5% see businesses as being most effective in helping the environment, when compared to environmental pressure groups, academics and the government. By contrast, 22% of those surveyed see businesses as being the most effective in helping the economic recovery.

This suggests that even those companies which are communicating their actions to be more sustainable are not yet directly associated with taking responsibility for the environment. Instead, the public sees the quest for a greener future as lying firmly in the hands of environmental organisations (e.g. charities and pressure groups), which are seen as the most important player in helping the environment to recover and are most likely to be trusted out of any group on the environment.

“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,” explains Tom Delay, Chief Executive of the Carbon Trust.

That is not to say that consumers are disinterested in the future of the environment. The demand for green products appears to be increasing with only 6% saying they are less likely to buy a sustainable product and/or service than 5 years ago while almost three in ten (27%)  said they are more likely.  Increased concern about the personal impact of what they buy on the environment was the most important reason for this (45%) and 43% of the public surveyed said they lead a more sustainable life than 5 years ago.

On a further optimistic note, five years after Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, 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.

Tom 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.”

Notes to Editors

Top Five Companies Listed by Respondents

Respondents were asked:

Can you name one company that you think is taking environmental sustainability seriously in their daily business operations?

The top five most popular responses, in order, were:

  1. Marks & Spencer
  2. Co-operative Group (including business units within the Co-operative Group)
  3. Tesco
  4. BP
  5. Sainsbury’s

About the research:

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1,819 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 11th - 12th September 2013.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

Results can be seen here: http://cdn.yougov.com/cumulus_uploads/document/b3dc03mvhx/YG-Archive-Carbon-Trust-results-120913-environmental-sustainability.pdf

About the Carbon Trust:

The Carbon Trust is an independent company with a mission to accelerate the move to a sustainable, low carbon economy. The Carbon Trust:

  • Advises businesses, governments and the public sector on opportunities in a sustainable, low carbon world.
  • Measures and certifies the environmental footprint of organisations, products and services.
  • Helps develop and deploy low carbon technologies and solutions, from energy efficiency to renewable power.