Despite Increasing Climate Impacts, 39% of U.S. Survey Respondents are Optimistic That Climate Disaster Will Be Averted in Their Lifetime
LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. – Oct. 6, 2022 – Across the world, people are stepping up personal efforts to avert climate change, according to the latest findings from Epson’s second Climate Reality Barometer. Research from the global technology leader suggests that while the world economy proves to be a distraction from efforts to address climate challenges, climate change remains a primary concern for many.
Despite a year of unprecedented climate impacts, the survey also reveals that people are increasingly optimistic that climate disaster can be averted in their lifetime – though data also shows that there are significant variations in confidence levels, driven by factors such as economics and age.
“The 2022 Epson Climate Reality Barometer shows progress – but also that short-term economic demands are in danger of distracting governments, businesses and individuals from immediate environmental action,” said Keith Kratzberg, president and CEO, Epson America. “With tools like the climate barometer survey, we are better equipped to make informed decisions by understanding public attitudes about the climate crisis.”
Optimism – Influenced by Economics and Age
Unsurprisingly, immediate financial issues are people’s main concern. Nearly half (49%) of the people surveyed as part of the Epson Climate Reality Barometer in the U.S. believe rising prices and fixing the economy is the most urgent issue that governments, companies, and people should be focusing on (climate change 15%).
Moreover, older respondents (aged 55+) believe rising prices (30.9%) is the most urgent issue, while younger respondents (aged 16-24) believe that climate change (22.3%) is the most urgent to be addressed.
From a global perspective, “fixing the economy” (22%) and “rising prices” (21%) ranked at the top the list of respondents’ priorities, with climate change ranked a very close third (20%). Despite global economic downturn, conflicts and soaring energy bills, the climate crisis remains front of mind for many people globally.
Climate concerns, however, aren’t leading to pessimism. Prior to COP 26 in November 2021, 46% of global respondents were optimistic that climate catastrophe could be averted within a lifetime. As the world prepares for COP 27 in Egypt this year, optimism has risen to over 48%.
Drilling down further, it’s clear that global averages mask startling regional variations in confidence levels. Optimism is lower in most developed economies, for example, than in emerging ones.
- The individual country members of the G7 all record levels of optimism significantly below the 48% global average: Canada (36.6%); France (22.5%); Germany (23.8%); Italy (25.2%); Japan (10.4%); the U.K. (28.4%); and the U.S. (39.4%).
- Rapidly emerging and fast-growing economies record levels of climate optimism significantly above the global average: China (76.2%); India (78.3%); Indonesia (62.6%); Kenya (76%); Mexico (66%); and the Philippines (71.9%).
Yasunori Ogawa, global president of Epson, commented, “Epson’s corporate purpose is focused on improving lives and the planet, and we will devote significant resources to achieve this. As the world gathers for COP 27, our Climate Reality Barometer aims to raise awareness and empower transformational change. We hope that the Barometer’s insights will help governments, industries, and individuals to step up their efforts to avert climate disaster. While we know there is a long way to go, we believe we can build a better future if we work together and act now.”
Reality Action: Motivation and Individual Steps Toward Change in the U.S.
Promisingly, many U.S. citizens are already taking action to mitigate the climate emergency. The top three actions people report they are already doing include reducing plastic use (46.1%); improving recycling habits (45.4%); and using more reusable goods i.e., fabric face masks (44.5%). In addition, survey respondents stated that the key factors motivating personal action include witnessing the impact of climate change (30.3%); government policy changes (29.6%); and social media (27.8%).
Despite this, there are still a number of gaps in terms of what people are willing to do, which will be important in reaching net zero targets at a global and national level. Only one in 10 (11.9%) have switched to an electric vehicle, and a quarter (24.1%) say they never will, though promisingly nearly half (40.7%) are planning to in the future. A fifth (19.7%) say they will never travel less for business and leisure, though promisingly a third (33.2%) say they already have.
However, for those who have taken up actions to mitigate the impacts of climate change, a number of them are consistently committed to these actions. Over a third (36.9%) have tried recycling for longer than a year and still do this. Over a quarter (27.8%) have tried reducing plastic use for longer than a year and still do this. A quarter (28.1%) have tried using renewable energy resources for at least six months.
Reality, Influence and Action Around the World
In 2022, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) announced that “Human-induced climate change is causing dangerous and widespread disruption in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world….” This year alone, disruption has encompassed adverse climate events across every continent, including: decades-long ‘mega-droughts’ in Africa and South America; rapid warming of both the Arctic and Antarctic; deadly floods in Asia and Australasia; unprecedented temperatures across the whole of Europe; and vanishing lakes in North America.
Environmental scientist and Co-CE of Change by Degrees, Dr. Tara Shine, said, “The harsh reality is that the past seven years have been the warmest on record and we run a real risk of passing safe temperature limits. Yet this survey shows that people across the world remain hopeful that their actions alongside those of government and corporations can transform society for the better. The immediate challenges facing economies around the globe, including rising energy and food prices, are both causes and symptoms of climate change. Planning for the long term and enabling people to take climate action now is the most powerful action countries can take to sustain climate optimism, reduce carbon pollution and build resilience to climate impacts.”
Unqualified optimism might be seen as wishful thinking, but Epson’s findings show that respondents do recognise the impacts of climate change. More than eight in 10 people (80.2%) cite the evidence of their own eyes – witnessing climate change in their daily lives – as the most influential factor in building awareness. Other significant climate information influences include:
- 75.7% cite government action and/or campaigns
- 75% cite on and offline news
- 74.2% cite social media
- 64.8% cite business or community campaigns
- 64% cite COP conferences
It appears that, in 2022, optimism isn’t leading to complacency, but rather spurring people to action. Between 2021 and 2022, the number of respondents who have, or plan to:
- Walk and/or cycle more has grown from around 83.7% to 87.2% – 31.8% have done so for more than a year
- Change to renewable energies has grown from 78.2% to 82.4% – 18.6% have done so for more than a year
- Reduce international business and leisure travel has grown from 65.1% to 68.2% – 23% have done so for more than a year
- Switch to electric vehicles has grown from 68% to 72.7% – 10.6% have done so for more than a year
- Adopt a plant-based diet has grown from 67.6% to 68.9% – 16.5% have done so for more than a year
While individual actions are ramping up, it’s clear that much more needs to be done. Governments need to regulate for sustainability, businesses need to develop sustainable policies and technologies, and individuals need to accelerate lifestyle changes – if the world is to meet its climate change targets and avoid irreversible change.
About Epson’s 2022 Climate Reality Barometer
Epson’s 2022 Climate Reality Barometer surveyed 26,205 general respondents from the following markets: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, U.K., U.S., and Vietnam.
Where year on year comparisons are shown, 17,273 consumers in the U.K., Germany, Italy, France, Spain, U.S., Brazil, Australia, China, Singapore, India, Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan, the UAE, Israel, and South Africa (Aged 16+) (06.08.2021 – 04.10.2021).
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