Products and services offered by businesses do not match Spaniards’ willingness to lower their carbon footprint: while 72% of Spanish citizens care about the climate impact of products or services, the EIB Climate Survey reveals that only 10% of them feel supported by companies in their climate-friendly actions and behaviour.
The European Investment Bank (EIB), in partnership with the global public opinion company YouGov, published today the fifth edition of its EIB Climate Survey, which assesses citizens’ sentiments towards climate change in the European Union, the United States and China. This wave of results reveals citizens’ expectations of companies and corporations in the fight against climate change.
The Survey found that a large majority of the Spanish population (59%) does not feel supported by companies in their climate-friendly efforts. This figure is slightly above the average perception of citizens across Europe, who show the same scepticism: 54% of Europeans consider companies are not helping citizens with their individual commitment to fight climate change.
When asked about potential solutions to encourage companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the majority of Spaniards, i.e. 53%, favour state regulatory measures, which is close to the European average (52%). To be more specific, 34% of Spanish citizens believe regulations and sanctions would be the most effective measure and 19% believe in fiscal incentives via subsidies and tax cuts to encourage greener business models – see figure 1 for more details.
Interestingly, the Survey also reveals that the purchase behaviour of Spanish citizens is strongly linked to the fight against climate change: 72% of Spaniards consider that the impact products or services may have on the climate is important when purchasing, which is above the European average (67%). Going into more detail, the results also show a gender gap in purchasing attitudes: 77% of Spanish women pay attention to the impact of a product or service on climate change, which is 10% higher than Spanish men (67%).
Against this backdrop, it becomes clear that the results illustrate a potential mismatch between businesses’ offer and citizens’ willingness to commit to climate-friendly actions when purchasing a product or a service. One particularly relevant example is the energy market. Spanish citizens identify the following three main barriers to using more green electricity: 45% of them say, “It is not always possible”; 17% find it “Too expensive”; and 24% “Do not know”. This last figure may reveal a lack of information and awareness about more sustainable energy sources.
On a regional level, Europeans score above American and Chinese citizens when it comes to climate-focused purchase behaviour. In both the United States and China, 57% of citizens claim that climate change is fairly or very important to their choice when buying products or services, while Europeans score 67% in this category. The three regions also differ in terms of citizens’ perception of the support
of businesses in their climate-friendly actions: only 12% of Chinese people and 45% of Americans do not feel supported by companies in comparison to 54% in Europe.
Emma Navarro, EIB Vice-President responsible for climate action and the environment, commented on the EIB Climate Survey findings, “The fight against climate change requires the involvement of everyone and companies play a key role. The survey results show citizens expect companies to be more committed to fighting climate change. At the same time, we need to be clear that climate action is good business and can deliver real benefits for economic growth and job creation. We therefore need a mix of incentives, regulatory intervention and investment to create the low-carbon economy of the future. At the EIB, we are ready to do even more. In 2018, the EIB provided EUR 7.4 billion for projects in Spain, of which nearly EUR 1.3 billion for climate action projects. Private sector companies had an important stake in this, taking out EUR 375 million in loans to finance climate-relevant projects.”
Figure 1 – Measures favoured by Spanish citizens to encourage companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
- State regulatory measures – 53%, including:
- regulations and sanctions – 34%
- fiscal incentives/subsidies/tax cuts for companies that invest in greener products and processes – 19%
- Fostering investments in climate-friendly companies and technologies – 14%
- Fostering basic research to better understand climate change and develop climate-friendly technologies – 12%
- Fostering climate-friendly public services and state-owned businesses – 7%
- Competition in free markets (i.e. competition will automatically encourage companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions) – 6%
- Fostering the sharing of climate-friendly technologies with other companies, even competitors – 5%