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Chinese consumers are the most concerned about climate change

Date
07 May 2014
Chinese consumers are the most concerned about climate change

BEIJING: Chinese citizens are the most likely to identify as “environmentalists” according to a new study on consumer attitudes across the EU, US and China.

Dutch research agency Motivaction International surveyed 48,000 consumers between the ages of 18 and 65 in 20 large economies. Participants were asked whether or not they agreed with three statements:

  1. I am an environmentalist
  2. I try to live eco-consciously
  3. I worry about the damage humans cause to the planet.

Across all three statements, Chinese respondents were the most environmentally engaged, with 64% identifying as environmentalists compared with just 31% of Europeans and 29% of Americans. Furthermore, 75% of Chinese affirm that they try to live eco-consciously, while 74% worry about the damage humans cause to the planet.

Their European and American counterparts are marginally less concerned with 71% and 60% respectively admitting to environmentally induced anxieties. With only 42% agreeing, Americans were also the least likely to endeavor to live eco-consciously, compared to 6 in 10 Europeans.

environmental attitudes

The Dutch Agency also highlighted that the Chinese climate consciousness is evident in their reactions to other statements in the study. When consumers were asked about the Millennium Development Goals, 78% of Chinese participants stated their support for Millennium goal 7 which relates to environmental sustainability.

Interestingly, 40% of Americans also endorsed this statement compared to just over a third of the Europeans surveyed.

The research analysts attribute this notable regional variation in green attitudes to the immediacy of the effect of environmental problems in China. The Asian nation has been plagued by exceptionally high levels of smog, which in October of 2013 reached 1000 on the index measurement of particulate matter PM2.5. It is recommended that particulate matter not rise above 300, because toxicity at this level in the atmosphere is highly dangerous to human beings.

Similarly, acute smog in Beijing is causing photosynthesis in plants to stall, threatening agricultural life, research from the China Agricultural University’s College of Water Resources and Civil Engineering found.

Public outcry at this unacceptable reality prompted Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to ‘declare war’ on pollution at the opening of China’s important annual parliamentary sessions in March of this year, and this was quickly followed by the launch of the New Urbanization Report.

Separately, just last month the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has exceeded 400 ppm, an alarming milestone which will pose a significant challenge to limiting global warming to the 2 centigrade ceiling. China, as the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, and the country with the most environmentally engaged population, has a strong opportunity to play a decisive role in reducing carbon emissions.

Changhua Wu, Greater China Director of The Climate Group, emphasized the role of technological innovation in addressing the country’s environmental problems. “It’s clear Chinese people are passionate advocates for climate action,” she commented.

“However, if the government is committed to implementing a war on pollution, prerequisites for success are technology development and technology industrialization, and an emphasis must also be placed on the marketization of applications. Economic growth and environmental protection are inseparable from clean technology innovation.”

The Greater China Director added: “In recognition of the central role technology plays, The Climate Group, together with its partners Cleantech Scandinavia and the Cleantech Group, will hold the first Global Cleantech Innovation Summit in Tianjin on September 12-13. The summit will publicize international and domestic clean technology, capital, and industrial property, while also helping China to achieve a sustainable development transformation.”

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By Alana Ryan

Graph courtesy of Motivaction International

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