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SUNDAY, February 05, 2023
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Mintel Sustainability Barometer 2022

Mintel Sustainability Barometer 2022

TUESDAY, December 06, 2022

Climate change is one of the most significant storm clouds hovering over the global consciousness, and despite persistent warnings, it isn’t going away.

 

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently described our position as “on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator…We are in the fight of our lives, and we are losing”.

This is a scary prospect, but fear can sometimes be a great motivator for change, and there’s no doubt that we need to ramp up the changes we are implementing if we are to have any chance of averting climate disaster. This change must come from all stakeholders, but consumers have an important role in taking us off the highway to climate hell and onto greener pastures.

 

Consumer engagement

Consumer engagement in sustainability has undoubtedly deepened as environmental concerns escalated in recent years. Whilst this is encouraging, it doesn't solve all of our problems. 

The biggest challenge is turning this heightened engagement into actual action by consumers. We need to prove to them that climate change threatens their health and costs them money and convince them of the personal – not just the global, altruistic – benefits of being more responsible. We need to sell ethics and eco-action – to paraphrase John Lennon – and sell it like people sell soap or soft drinks.  

Mintel Sustainability Barometer 2022

Climate and inequality

Like many negative influences, those most vulnerable tend to feel the consequences more keenly, and radical climate change is no different. The world's richest 10% generated over half of the emissions between 1990 and 2015. Today, developing and poorer nations bear the brunt of the historic emissions of wealthy industrialised countries and their over-consumption. 

People living in coastal communities and increasingly hot, desertified, or melting ice sheet environments are displaced as migrants. Poorer people or those with disabilities are more exposed to the financial costs and health dangers of dependence on fossil fuels or extreme weather events. Rich countries and consumers have a moral duty to act politically and individually.   

According to research by Mintel, air quality, climate change and deforestation are Thai consumers' top three environmental concerns, and they are concerns that consumers can impact. 59% of the emission reductions we need to achieve net zero are linked at least indirectly to what they choose to do or buy. 

Like everyone else, Thai consumers who care about these issues should strive to reduce the consumption of clothes, meat and dairy, ensure their packaging goes into a recycling scheme and select more responsible brands. They can also embrace micro-mobility options such as walking and cycling. When it comes to ensuring governments speed up the transition to renewables, it's a case of voting for government programmes of action.  

Mintel Sustainability Barometer 2022

Accelerating momentum on a short timeline

Although we need consumers to be proactive, there are increasing levels of scepticism about the long-term effect their actions can have. In fact, the number of consumers who believe we still have time to save the planet if we act now has declined, and they're right; we are running out of time. The previous COP commitments left us a long way off the target to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. Still, it's not just consumers that need to step up: Governments and companies need to be honest about where they are and what needs to be achieved, take action and prove to consumers that their actions make them part of this journey.

We must reward consumers and excite them about environmental sustainability to increase and maintain their engagement. This means showing them how much money they've saved by renting instead of buying something or by installing home solar instead of gas, for example. 

We also need to appeal to their sense of ego and individuality and let them show, share and even flaunt the fact that they're taking small actions for good. The same marketing rules apply here as any other "product": sell into them not just for the environmental benefit but for how they feel about themselves and look to their peers.

Mintel spokesperson: Richard Cope, Senior Trends Consultant

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