Climate change among top three concerns for South Africans

  • Epson has shared the findings of its latest Climate Barometer survey, looking at how people in the country look at climate change.
  • While it is indeed a concern locally, poverty and cost of living still rank higher as local concerns.
  • Interestingly, younger age groups climate change as a concern compared to older ones.

Sustainability, green energy, ewaste, and other environmentally conscious elements have become increasingly significant concerns for the way that many businesses look to operate these days. While the business sphere is focusing on this front, what does the average South African think about something like climate change?

Offering some insight to that question is Epson, which recently shared the findings of its Climate Barometer survey, which is now in its third year.

To that end, Epson says that climate change ranks in the top three concerns for South Africans.

The other two, which rank higher, are very much economically related – poverty and cost of living – both of which have both come into sharp relief as a result of the continued economic downturn that has hit every country and industry in 2023.

“After poverty (68.4%) and the rising prices of goods and services (64.2%), the third most pressing concern facing South Africans, according to the Barometer, is climate change, with 58% of respondents citing climate concerns as one of the biggest issues facing the world today. The predominant sentiment among South Africans regarding climate change is one of fear, with 36.7% expressing fearfulness while a third expressed anxiety,” Epson highlighted in a press release sent to Hypertext.

“With challenges such as power cuts and record unemployment levels in the country stunting economic growth, it’s no surprise that South Africans’ main concerns centre on issues like poverty and inflation for a second year in a row. The fact that climate change remains a major concern in our market is also telling of a growing environmental awareness among South Africans,” added Timothy Thomas, country manager at Epson South Africa.

Another interesting set of metrics shared in the survey is how different generations of South Africans view climate change as a critical issue. Using the first COP conference held in 1995 as a reference point, the survey found that those aged younger do not have the same concerns about climate change that their older counterparts do.

“Gen COP for instance were less likely to cite climate change as one of the biggest issues facing the world today (55.6%) than those aged 30 and over (58.9%). Those in the 55+ age group were the most likely (74.2%),” the release highlights.

“Gen COP are also notably more optimistic, with 71.7% believing in averting a climate crisis in their lifetime compared to 59.6% of those aged 30 and over. When compared to 2022 statistics, the overall proportion of South Africans who share this optimism has increased from 56.6% to 62.5% in this year’s Barometer,” it continues.

While younger generations are generally displaying more optimism when it comes to climate change there is still more to be done, and this is where those in the business sphere are expected to help a great deal, according to Epson.

“The responsibility doesn’t rest solely on individuals; South African businesses are also expected to play their part in reducing their carbon footprint and actively contributing to the fight against climate change. The 2023 Barometer results reveal that 60% of South African respondents anticipate local businesses and companies to invest more in environmental technologies, and nearly 55% believe that companies should prioritise efforts to improve recycling and the reuse of products,” the survey pointed out.

“South African businesses have a crucial role to play in mitigating the impact of climate change. We must make a greater effort to reduce the environmental impact of our manufacturing and internal processes while also setting an example by adopting eco-friendly practices,” explained Thomas.

With many looking to businesses to be the drivers of change when it comes to addressing climate change, it will be interesting to see just how many actually choose to step up and make tangible changes, especially with the climate crisis being at its most fragile state to date.

[Image – Provided]


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