Epson’s global survey reveals huge misunderstanding of the real dangers of climate change – 46% of people still believe there will be no climate crisis in their lifetime

The new research points to a significant difference that exists between the perception of climate change and the severity of this problem

Company Epson publishes the results of its Climate Change Barometer 50 days before the start of the 26th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 26), which is being held in the United Kingdom in November. Research conducted by Epson indicates the existence of a potentially harmful gap, ie a misunderstanding between the current state of climate change and what people see as possible catastrophic consequences of these changes. This survey deals with the experience and perception of climate change of 15,264 consumers from Asia, Europe and North and South America.

The Climate Change Barometer data is limited in time because Epson wanted to present the results before the COP 26 conference in order to raise public awareness of the impact of climate change and to influence other business decisions, as well as to better inform decision makers.

Lack of realistic assessment: optimism versus evidence

The survey involved people from Australia, Brazil, France, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, China, Germany, the United States, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan and the United Kingdom. Asked to express their opinion on the ability of humanity to cope with the climate crisis during their lifetime, almost half of the respondents (46%) say that they are “very” or “somewhat” optimistic about this issue. That’s a far higher number compared to 27% of respondents who say they are very or somewhat pessimistic.

The most common reasons for such optimism are the growing public awareness of climate change (32%), the belief that science and technology will find adequate solutions (28%) and the transition to renewable energy sources (19%). Globally, 5% of respondents do not believe that there is an emergency climate situation at all, with respondents from the USA (11%), Germany (7%) and the United Kingdom (6%) leading the way.

According to reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), some human-induced climate change will take several thousand years for things to return to normal.1, and when we consider a series of events on a global scale, including the month of July2 with the highest temperature ever measured, fires3 in Europe, North America and Asia, as well as floods4 in China, Colombia, and Germany, the conclusions of the Epson Climate Change Barometer point to the victory of optimism over facts and the detrimental lack of a realistic perception of the climate situation.

Henning Olson, Director of Sustainability at Epson Europe, says: “As this climate emergency is unfolding before our eyes, it is really worrying that so many people are unable to see and recognize it, and a number of people are even actively denies that such a thing exists. This is a warning to everyone – both governments and companies and individuals – that they must urgently wake up and work together to make decisions at the COP 26 conference and encourage the action needed to alleviate the crisis caused by climate change. ”

Reality check: understanding versus activity

The results of the research presented in the Barometer indicate that optimism may be the result of the inability to recognize climate change, which is why so many people have an optimistic attitude. About three-quarters of respondents see a link between climate change and rising global temperatures (77%), extreme weather conditions (74%) and fires (73%). On the other hand, only half are aware of events such as famine (57%), mass migration of the population (55%) and insect infestation (51%). There are significant differences between individual regions here, so that the awareness regarding the number of hungry people in the world is the highest in Taiwan (72%), and the lowest in the USA (44%).

Many respondents believe that the responsibility for this situation lies with the state and industrial concerns. More than one in four respondents (27%) say that states are the main culprits, while 18% believe that companies are “most responsible” for this situation. Nearly 18% of respondents also confirm their own responsibility – the highest awareness of personal responsibility was shown by respondents in Indonesia (30%), and the lowest by respondents in China and Germany (11% each). What is encouraging is the fact that the majority of respondents believe that responsibility is collective (31%).

Although people are generally willing to change their lifestyle in order to start resolving this crisis, some are reacting slowly. The barometer shows the following: 65% of respondents agree that business and personal travel should be reduced (some are already doing it or plan to do so), but only 40% have actually done so. Similarly, 68% of respondents agree that they should switch to electric vehicles, but only 16% of respondents actually did so. Also, 58% of respondents agree that human nutrition should be based on plant-based foods, but only 27% of them have adopted a vegan diet. Even if we look at relatively simple questions, such as boycotting brands whose business is not based on sustainability, 63% of respondents agree with that, but only 29% have changed their consumer habits.

Business reality – now is the time for action

Climate change barometer data indicates that for many people, the climate crisis is still something that happens to someone other than them. Although according to the results of the survey only 14% of respondents believe that large companies are most responsible for resolving the climate emergency, and only 3% of small companies (less than 5% of those who deny that climate change exists at all), it is time for companies of all size take on a bigger role.

Companies can encourage and motivate other businesses and consumers by offering innovative solutions based on sustainability. That’s how we at Epson have developed high-energy, heat-free printing technology to support the initiative to reduce the environmental impact of our customers. We are also engaged in research and development of environmental technologies, such as the use of natural (non-plastic) materials.

In addition to innovations in the field of products and materials, companies can make great strides by supporting and demonstrating by personal example the responsibility for environmental protection and climate change. Epson is also active in this field: moving to 100% renewable electricity and engaging in various initiatives, such as the RE100 initiative, which advocates the use of electricity from renewable sources; paying attention to closed chain recycling, e.g. through refactoring and reuse of products; and establishing partnerships with entities that can make a huge impact, such as our collaboration with “National Geography” to protect permafrost5.

Yasunori Ogawa, global president of Epson, says: “Discovering the lack of a realistic perception of the climate situation shows that the most important factor in resolving this climate emergency will be a combination of raising awareness and taking concrete action.” Epson’s goal is to – our company, other companies and consumers – increase people’s awareness and use all the necessary technologies to bring about a complete transformation. At the heart of our business plan is sustainability, backed by other important resources – even though we know we have a long way to go, we believe we can build a better future. ”

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