A new study from the Carbon Trust reveals a divide between Generation Y’s attitude to carbon reduction in the East and West. The study, which questioned over 2,500 young people aged 18-25, across five continents in Brazil, China, South Africa, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, sought to understand whether tomorrow’s consumers are concerned about climate change and will favour brands that reduce their carbon emissions.

The research, which was commissioned by the Carbon Trust and conducted by TNS, reveals that Generation Y in China is leading the call for brands to reduce their impact on the environment. Eighty-three percent of young people questioned in China say they would be more loyal to a brand if they could see it was reducing its carbon footprint, compared to 73% in the Republic of Korea, 57% in the USA and 55% in the UK. Sixty percent of Chinese young adults who participated in the research say they would stop buying a product if its manufacturer refused to commit to measuring and reducing its carbon footprint, followed by 57% in Brazil, 53% in Korea, and 36% and 35% in the UK and US respectively.

Tom Delay, Chief Executive of the Carbon Trust, comments, “These new findings are startling. Sixty percent of young adults questioned in China would stop buying a product if its manufacturer refused to commit to measuring and reducing its carbon footprint, compared to just 35% of those in the US. Perhaps it is the Chinese, and not the US consumer, that really holds the key to unlocking the mass demand for the new low-carbon products necessary to deliver an environmentally sustainable economy. If global brands don’t build international carbon reduction strategies even faster, they risk missing out on the spending power of emerging economies.”

Top four products and categories which young adults think can do more to reduce their carbon footprints: 1) Consumer electronics - 68% thought they could do more; 2) Consumer healthcare brands - 50% thought they could do more; 3) Clothes manufacturers and retailers - 50% thought they could do more; 4) Food manufacturers and retailers - 48% thought they could do more.

There is also evidence that young adults want brands to be clearly accountable for  their action on carbon. Eighty-one percent of those questioned in Brazil said companies should be obliged to provide proof of their policy to reduce their carbon footprint, higher than any other nation. Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed worldwide want to see companies’ carbon impact quantified by an independent organization. This is highest in China at 84% and lowest in the USA at 55%. Across all the markets, on average a third of young consumers (33%) say they are prepared to buy a more expensive product if it has a lower carbon footprint. When asked which products and categories can do the most to reduce their carbon footprint, 68% of young consumers cited consumer electronics companies in the top three, followed by consumer healthcare brands (50%), clothes manufacturers and retailers (50%), and food manufacturers and retailers (48%).

  • The research was conducted online by TNS between February 24th and March 6th 2012. The Carbon Trust is a not-for-profit group with the mission to accelerate the move to a low-carbon economy.