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Market News

 June 22, 2007
Consumers Don't Trust Corporations, Gov't on Climate Change

 London, UK -- Only 10 percent of consumers in the United States and the U.K. believe efforts by governments and companies to inform them about climate change, according to a new study from AccountAbility.

The report, "What Assures Consumers on Climate Change?" finds that rather than trust institutions and corporations, most people in the two companies instead trust information from friends, family and environmental groups. Even though 54 percent said they were willing to make personal sacrifices to fight climate change, three-quarters of respondents still feel unable to take action.

"What consumers are crying out for is leadership," said Philip Monaghan, a director at AccountAbility. "More serious policy action and less photo shoots with Leonardo DiCaprio is key to building consumer trust and action."

One remedy for this lack of trust is for governments and companies to take serious, concerted action on climate change. Two-thirds of the people surveyed said they wanted tougher action from governments and companies on products that contribute to climate change.

It's not just big institutions that respondents want to take action: the survey showed that most people believe everyone shares responsibility for reducing their contribution to climate change.

"What's interesting is that at this moment in time, we're seeing consumers increasingly taking interest in environmental social issues -- what was previously niche ethical consumerism appears to be mainstreaming," Monaghan told Reuters.

The findings of the study also emphasize that consumers want to buy ecologically friendly products and services. Almost 40 percent said energy efficient products should be priced in a fair and affordable manner, and 51.5 percent believe the government should take action to remove environmentally damaging products from shelves.

Furthermore, most respondents believe that companies and governments alike need to embrace and enforce independent third-party verification of any claims that a product or service is climate-friendly.

"The critical factor which will determine businesses' credibility in the environmental arena is verification," Richard Sadler, CEO of Lloyd's Register, an environmental verification service, said of the report. "Without it, trust will erode and trust is the essential currency of any market system. What we need now is a common standard, providing a basis for independent verification, to give consumers claims they can trust."

Interim results of the joint poll by AccountAbility and Consumers International of 2,734 people also revealed that more than 50 percent believe governments need to make sure that products that are damaging to the environment are removed from stores.