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How experience data can be used against climate change

How experience data can be used against climate change

How experience data can help fight against climate change

  • A study of more that 11,000 people in 28 different countries by the World Economic Forum (Qualtrics) and SAPIt is clear that we are far from reaching consensus about who is responsible and who can be trusted for taking action on climate changes
  • Results suggest 81% of people say businesses are primarily responsible for taking action on climate change, for example, yet only 28% trust businesses’ claims about sustainable practices.
  • To be able to predict the impact of climate change, it is essential to analyze data from past experiences.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that collaboration and trust are critical to addressing global crises. Global cooperation to combat climate change is more important than ever in a world where extreme weather events are increasing in severity and frequency, biodiversity is declining, and sea levels are rising.

A study of more that 11,000 people in 28 countries, conducted by the World Economic Forum in collaboration avec Qualtrics & SAPIt is clear that global citizens are on the exact same page regarding the causes of climate change. The majority of the respondents agree that climate change has been caused by humans, while 78% believe it is essential for countries to collaborate to address the problem.

The research also indicates that we’re far from reaching a consensus about who is responsible for taking action and who is trusted to do so. The difficulty of deciding how to work together and where to focus has been a major obstacle to progress.

Global perspectives on climate change

Global perspectives on climate changes

Image: qualtrics/SAP

A significant number of people feel there’s nothing they can do individually to solve the climate crisis and instead are looking to businesses and governments to lead the way. Yet, while 81% say businesses are primarily responsible for taking action, only 28% trust businesses’ claims about sustainable practices.

Understanding people’s experiences is crucial to knowing what solutions will drive impact. Experience data – data that reveals how people are thinking, feeling and behaving – can help governments and businesses understand what motivates people to support climate efforts and make sustainable changes of their own in order to restore and sustain the healthy planet we all want to live on.

Experience and opinions are not the same thing

People often don’t understand the marketing vocabulary businesses use to showcase sustainability. Consumers can be confused by the use of terms like renewable, net-zero emission, recycled, and carbon offset. At the same time, greenwashing (or conveying false or misleading information about the environmental impact of a company’s products and services) is a growing problem and one of the main reasons there is so little trust in businesses’ claims.

These are some of the things businesses can do in order to bridge these gaps in knowledge and experience. To build public trust, businesses must be transparent about their environmental messaging. Businesses must also regularly ask their customers if the climate change promises are understood and if they believe them. This type of experience data is essential for companies who want to make data driven decisions about which initiatives they will support and therefore have the greatest impact.

Responsibility and progress of business on climate change

Climate change: Business responsibility and progress

Image: qualtrics/SAP

The same is true for governments. More than half (59%) of respondents to the study believe that governments are not doing enough in addressing climate change. Experience data would be a great resource for lawmakers to help them understand which levers they should pull to design the most trusted and effective policies.

Governments and businesses alike should repeatedly take their constituents’ pulse to gauge what they should be focusing on and then to measure their perceived progress. This not only helps organizations to be accountable for their goals, but also educates constituents on their part in supporting government sustainability efforts. Citizens will feel more connected to the solution and will be more motivated.

Where belief meets practice

If you look at the bigger picture, it is clear that we are all united in our concern for climate change. While most people believe what scientists have to say about the consequences of inaction on climate change, 51% of those polled think that it is happening too slowly.

It may seem redundant to add experience data to the mix, given the amount of data scientists have shared about global temperatures and their effects on weather systems and habitats. To be able to find the right solutions, all actions must start with a belief.

Climate change is a serious threat that requires urgent action. Already, communities all over the globe are experiencing an increase in climate impacts, including flooding and droughts. These environmental threats are still at the top of The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report.

To limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, it is essential that businesses, policy-makers, and civil society advance comprehensive near- and long-term climate actions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The World Economic Forum Climate InitiativeThe public-private sector collaboration supports global climate action. The Initiative has several work streams that help to develop and implement ambitious and inclusive solutions.

This includes the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders. It is a global network of business leaders representing various industries that are developing cost-effective solutions for transitioning to low-carbon, climate resilient economies. CEOs use their position and influence to reach out to policy-makers, corporate partners, and accelerate the transition.

Get in touchTo get involved.

Although no single consumer can combat climate change by themselves, the collective mindset of all consumers can have a significant impact on the governments and businesses who serve them. It’s worth studying people’s perceptions of and experiences with climate change to the greatest degree possible.

We’ve already made incredible progress toward a concerted global effort against climate change. The public trust is greater than ever in climate science. As we continue to measure, analyse and respond to people’s experiences, we will be increasingly able to dispel myths and build consensus around solutions that really drive impact.


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