UK Public Are Getting Bored With Climate Change

A new survey of over 1000 people in the UK has highlighted a level of boredom when it comes to climate change and Net Zero. More people are upset about companies using slave/child labour in production of goods or services, than their carbon offsetting, recycling or pumping cash into more solar panels and wind turbines.

The annual SEC Newgate Global ESG Monitor, which surveyed more than 1,000 people in the UK (and 12,000 globally) in late July, also found that 77% of respondents said they wanted corporates to behave like good corporate citizens and consider their impacts on other people and the planet. That is a rather vague aim of course and you have to ask the question how does being a good corporate citizen square with supporting the war in Ukraine, right up to the level of using nuclear weapons? Yeah, that moral high ground can be slippery.

SHOW ME THE MONEY

It’s no surprise to IE that people are primarily worried about their bills, jobs and the lights going out. When it came to the top three priorities for the UK’s future, survey participants gave the highest priority to:

  • Addressing the rising cost of living (52%);
  • Ensuring quality, affordable energy and fuel supplies (32%); and
  • Ensuring secure and affordable food supplies (29%).

ARE CONSUMERS REALLY THAT BOTHERED ABOUT ESG?

Across the insurance sector ESG is huge right now, an integral part of compliance and a key plank as regards investments too. No more coal, oil or gas. Only approved “green” projects. But does that ESG strategy have majority support amongst policyholders who pay the premiums? Good question. In the UK, interest in ESG was moderate over the last 12 months, with participants giving an average interest rating of 5.5 out of 10 – significantly lower than in 2021 (6.1) and compared to the global average (6.5). This shift in focus appears to reflect heightened concerns in the UK around cost of living.

When asked an open-response question about the one ESG issue they feel is most important for companies in the UK to focus on, the front-runners were protecting the environment (13%), addressing climate change (12%) and reducing waste and increasing recycling (10%).

Overall, close to one in two participants mentioned environmental issues (47%), followed by social issues (26%) and governance issues (6%). This strong focus on the environment in the UK was aligned with the global results. Of course something like litter is an environmental issue, or polluting rivers and streams with untreated sewage. 

 WILLING TO SPEND YOUR CASH ON GREENER LIVING? ER, NO THANKS

compared to the global total (average of 6.4 out of 10), people in the UK place less importance on ESG issues influencing their own day-to-day purchase decisions (average of 5.7 out of 10). And like others around the world, they place higher importance on companies taking action on ESG issues (with an average importance rating of 7.3 out of 10; 7.6 at the global level). Yes, people always want someone else to do the hard stuff and pay more for greener, 100% recycled, ocean waste goods, not them. They want Aldi bargains and who cares where they made?

For insurers, the stark truth is that so long as they refuse to engage with modern slave traffickers or support car/van/e-scooter battery packs made using lithium mined by children, their reputations should remain high.

When prompted with a list and asked which actions would genuinely make them stop or avoid using a company’s products or services, the company behaviours most commonly selected by participants in the UK were:

  • Slave labour/child labour (65%);
  • Corruption (58%); and
  • Tax evasion (53%).

Interesting that British people still hate corruption like nepotism, price-fixing or bribery regarding big contracts etc. even though it is rife in the public sector where about one third the workforce are employed ( including NGOs, quangos, charities and other organisations that exist primarily funded by government grants or loans ).

Notably, there is a heightened sensitivity to tax evasion in the UK (53%), where more people said they would boycott a company that was avoiding paying its fair share of taxes than the global total of 45%. That doesn’t stop people using Google, Amazon, Boots or many other brands which utilise every legal tax avoidance scheme of course. Saying you don’t support something like corporation tax minimisation doesn’t extend to physically boycotting the brand, that’s the reality underpinning these surveys.

A silica mine in India. Silica is used to make smartphone and laptop screens. Green? No, but very useful if you want a cheap smartphone.

IE COMMENT

The survey also exposes the oft-repeated lie that people are claimouring for more action on Net Zero and climate change. Most UK citizens are seemingly much more worried about their energy bills, commuting costs and food prices.

As regards slave labour, seeing your own government, hotel chains, law firms and the RNLI become part of modern slave trafficking is something that most people would regard as an immediate and urgent problem and morally wrong. Insurance brands who support mass trafficking should pause and think about the long term impact upon their brand values. Slavery exists in takeaways, nail bars and car washes across the UK, it exists in hotels and HMOs housing the vulnerable and trafficked.

By insuring those businesses associated with this undocumented human cargo you are enabling this problem of bonded servitude to continue – is that the right thing to do?

 

About alastair walker 10539 Articles
20 years experience as a journalist and magazine editor. I'm your contact for press releases, events, news and commercial opportunities at Insurance-Edge.Net

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