New Survey Looks at the 'Greening' of Europe vs. the U.S.

Published: Jan 24, 2019
Modified: Mar 24, 2020

By AMA Staff

From fluctuations in the economy to fair trade, businesses face many challenges today, and ensuring that companies meet their corporate environmental responsibility is no exception. In terms of businesses communicating their green credentials, a new study conducted online by Harris Interactive® reveals that German businesses appear to be setting the pace, with 43% of German workers considering their employer to be “green,” compared to 30% in Italy, 28% in Spain, 21% in both the UK and U.S., and just 19% in France.

More Germans are also aware their employer has a corporate responsibility/environmental policy, with 41% of German workers aware, compared with 32% of UK workers and 30% of French, Italian, and Spanish workers.

A Cautionary Tale
The survey also highlights a note of caution for businesses that promote their green credentials, as almost half (49%) of UK respondents and one-third of the other countries surveyed stated they are cynical of businesses that promote their green credentials (Germany 37%, France 36%, Spain 33%, Italy 30%, U.S. 30%). However, those businesses successful in promoting their green credentials could gain commercial advantage, as the survey also revealed a willingness to pay a little more on products and services that are “greener.” In Italy, 57% are prepared to pay a little more followed by just under half in France (46%) and all remaining countries scoring alike (U.S. 43%, Germany 42%, Spain 41%, UK 37%).

Climate Changes
French respondents demonstrated the highest level of concern for climate change, with a majority (90%) stating their concern, followed by Spain (88%) and Italy (81%). However, in these countries there are other more pressing issues such as pollution (92%) and education (91%) in Spain and crime (90%), the economy (87%) and pollution (85%) in Italy. Among Germans, even though the proportion concerned with climate change falls to 73%, the issue is still ranked as their second highest concern behind education standards (77%). In contrast, although the proportion concerned is pretty similar in both the U.S. and UK (U.S. 70%, UK 68%), that is where the similarities end, as the Americans place climate change as second from bottom and the British respondents place it fourth from bottom of the list.

So How Should Climate Change Be Tackled?
Respondents in all countries agreed that green issues need to be tackled globally with at least 79% agreement in each country, and that governments, businesses, and consumers were responsible for taking steps to reduce climate change (all above 70% agreement). However, it was felt the contributions made by national governments could be improved. The country that received the highest endorsement was France, where just 29% of respondents perceived their government is doing all it can. This drops to less than one in five for the other countries listed (Germany 16%, Spain 13%, Italy, UK and U.S. 11%).

Janet Blackburn, research director, said, “In addition to the perception that these entities could do more, many respondents believe that businesses could increase their efforts on environmental issues. In Germany only 10% felt that businesses are doing all they can to tackle ‘green’ issues, with other countries fairing only slightly better (U.S. 18%, UK 14%, France and Italy 13% each, Spain 12%). Significant proportions of respondents in each country also feel they personally can do more. French (65%) and Spanish respondents (65%) personally feel that they are doing all they can to make a difference, followed by Italians (54%), those in the UK (43%) Germans, (41%) and the U.S. (33%).”

Who’s Green?
The proportions describing themselves as "green" (extremely green, very green, or green) is far lower in the U.S. and UK than the rest of the countries listed. Under half of UK adults (47%) and just 37% of U.S. respondents consider themselves to be “green.” In contrast, 70% of German respondents consider themselves to be green, followed by Italy (65%), Spain (60%), and France (59%).

In terms of exhibiting green behavior, the most common green activity across all the countries listed was recycling. Interestingly, the proportions of UK respondents who recycle on a regular basis (80%) are similar to the best in Europe (Germany at 83%). However, UK respondents finished bottom of the countries listed for buying environmentally friendly products (46%) and cutting down consumption of natural resources such as petrol, coal, gas and water (38%). The UK also finished second from bottom for claimed usage of public transport for green reasons (23%), with U.S. bottom (14%).

The study was conducted online by Harris Interactive among a total of 6,590 adults (aged 16-64) within France (1,075), Germany (1,114), Great Britain (1,117), Spain (1,076) and the United States (1,108) and adults (aged 18-64) in Italy (1,100) November 1-14, 2007. Figures for age, sex, education, region, and Internet usage were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

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