Epson Global Survey Reveals Startling Climate Reality Deficit

Epson Global Survey Reveals Startling Climate Reality Deficit

Epson Climate Reality Barometer
Epson Climate Reality Barometer

With just 45 days to go to the start of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in the UK in November, Epson announces the results of its Climate Reality Barometer. Epson’s research discovers a potentially damaging gap between climate reality and people’s understanding of its catastrophic effects. The survey captures global experiences and perceptions of climate change from 15,264 consumers across Asia, Europe, North America, and South America, including 1,207 consumers in India.

Timed to help frame discussions at COP 26, the goal of the Epson Climate Reality Barometer is to raise greater public awareness of climate change impacts, influence transformative business decisions, and better inform policymakers.

When questioned about their views on humanity’s ability to avert a climate crisis within their lifetimes, almost three in four (73.4%) of people surveyed in India as part of the Epson Climate Reality Barometer, state they are “very” or “somewhat” optimistic, while just one in 10 (11.4%) claim to be very or somewhat pessimistic. This significantly outweighs the global trend, with close to half of the respondents worldwide (46%) stating that they are optimistic and 27% expressing pessimism in this regard. Results show a worrying climate reality deficit between participants’ perception of, the scale and immediacy of the climate emergency on one hand and the actions to tackle the same on the other. In India, 4.1% of respondents do not believe that there is a climate emergency at all. The US tops the list of climate deniers at 11%.

Optimism in India is driven most by the opportunity to use science and technology to solve problems (31.9%), the fact that people are not aware of climate change dangers (26.4%), and the ability to move away from fossil fuels like coal to renewable sources like wind energy (21.4%). On the other hand, those who are pessimistic are driven mostly by a belief that people are not aware of climate change dangers (32.6%), a lack of government action (30.4%) – with 17.4% believing we are not switching to renewable energy sources link wind energy fast enough.

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report warned that India will suffer more frequent and intense heatwaves, extreme rainfall events, and erratic monsoons, as well as more cyclonic activity, among other weather-related calamities in the coming decades. Epson’s Climate Reality Barometer’s findings suggest a damaging triumph of optimism over evidence, with potentially devastating consequences.
The Barometer suggests that optimism may be the result of a failure to recognize climate change and, therefore, its scale. Around three-quarters of respondents in India see the link between climate change and rising global temperatures (81.6%), extreme weather (78.5%), and declining water supplies (75.6%). In contrast, awareness falls to just over half for other important events such as famine (58.4%), thawing permafrost (54.1%), and insect outbreaks (59.8%).

Many in India, however, still believe action should come from elsewhere: a quarter (25.8%) believe governments are “most responsible for tackling the climate emergency”, and 26.9% say businesses are the “most responsible” for tackling climate. The findings also suggest a lack of consistency between individual intention and action. While 66.2% of Indians are already reducing plastic use, worryingly 8.8% of people say they have no intention of doing so, or don’t know how to. Similarly, 42.6% of Indians claim that they are boycotting unsustainable brands but 16.7% of those surveyed say they don’t intend to or aren’t sure how to go about this. And while 65.1% of Indians claim that they are walking or cycling more often, 8.9% still say they don’t intend to change their travel habits.

There is evidence, however, that the idea of personal and collective responsibility is gaining currency. Encouragingly, 21% of respondents see that they are personally “most responsible”, while (21.5%) believe that we are all responsible — with action incumbent on governments, businesses, and individuals alike.