Ethical Performance
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Business not trusted on climate change

July 2008

Barely a fifth of Australian consumers trust international companies, local businesses or their government to give accurate global warming information. However, 68 per cent trust scientists and 53 per cent believe environmental groups.

The figures are published in the interim findings of a study assessing people's attitudes after climate change became a principal issue in Australia's federal election last November.

Half the respondents gave thought to the environmental responsibility of their own lifestyles but more than a third said that efforts to halt global warming must not take away people's ability to heat their homes, travel to work or take holidays.

At the same time, the report said, Australian consumers appear to want tougher action by business and government to prevent global warming. In particular, they want the government to phase out products that contribute to climate change and to publicize credible information about environmental damage from products.

The survey was conducted by AccountAbility, LRQA Australia and the Net Balance Foundation. The research was sponsored by the Australian Food and Grocery Council, EPA Victoria, Foster's, Transurban and the Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Alex MacGillivray, AccountAbility's head of programmes, said: 'Australian consumers are clearly ready to do their bit. But they are telling us they need reassurance on two fronts. First, that they are doing the right things. Second, that their good work will be taken to scale by co-ordinated action from government and business.'

Terence Jeyaretnam, director of the Net Balance management group, said: 'These are important signposts to what consumers want, such as timely and appropriate information from businesses, more leadership from companies and government, and recognized and rigorous standards from trusted sources of information. It is a clear call to Australian business and government to demonstrate leadership and give people the confidence they lack when making environmentally aware purchasing decisions.'

A research report will follow this month proposing action on global warming.

Australasia | Consumer attitudes

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