Skeptical Americans Think Environmental Efforts All for Show

September 16, 2008

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Some 70% of Americans don’t think business and industry are fulfilling their responsibility to protect the environment, according to recent US and global environmental research from GfK Roper Consulting.

In addition, 69% of Americans think businesses engage in environmentally friendly behavior to promote their image, while only 29% believe they engage in such behavior for the good of the environment, according to GFK Roper.

Though inflation and high prices top the list of concerns among the global population (41%), worry over environmental pollution is rising worldwide (25% in 2008, up from 22% last year).

Japan lists pollution as its number-one concern, followed by climate change. In comparison, pollution and climate change appear as numbers 11 and 15, respectively, among Americans’ list of concerns.

Despite these growing climate-change issues on the global radar, less than one-third of the total population (29%) feel they can personally do a “fair amount” or “a lot” to improve the environment:


Thailand is most optimistic about its ability to positively affect climate change (63%), followed by Japan (53%), Korea (51%), Mexico (48%) and Brazil (46%). The US tracks with the global average of 29%. Russia is the most pessimistic, at only 5%.


In terms of taking responsibility, one in three global respondents say they expect national governments that to take the lead on climate change and global warming.



  • 14% believe environmental groups should spearhead initiatives.
  • 10% say business and industry must lead the pack.
  • 6% believe local government should be primarily responsible.
  • Scientists and inventors, individuals and international organizations all received 9% of the global vote.

In planning eco-action, respondents also see a need to balance economic needs against environmental needs. One in four Americans say “first comes economic security and wellbeing, then we can worry about environmental problem,” up 12 percentage points from 2007.

“Though worries over the health of the global economy are weighing on many, consumers are not necessarily pulling back from eco-responsibility,” said Tim Kenyon, senior market analyst with GfK Roper Consulting. “People are increasingly foregoing unnecessary trips, reducing their driving distances and cutting back on restaurant dining -?all of which have a positive impact not only on the pocketbook but also, perhaps as an unintended benefit, on the environment.


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