Consumer Sustainability Monitor – September 20232023.10.24
The majority of the Irish public agrees that Ireland is not on pace to reach its 2030 emissions reduction target, but business as usual suggests this is still not a top concern
This past summer, while other parts of the world, including many parts of Europe, were experiencing record-breaking heat, Ireland was setting weather records of an entirely different nature. In a country renowned for its rain, Ireland managed to set a record for the wettest July on record.
Meanwhile, Ireland’s 2030 target of 51% Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions reduction vs 2021 looms in the backdrop like Mount Everest, with the EPA reporting in June that Ireland is projected to fall “well short” of this target. However, to a sizable portion of the Irish public, the climate crisis still remains somewhat of an abstract threat and not one that is as much of a priority as the cost-of-living crisis.
The latest results of RED C’s Consumer Sustainability Monitor show that although the majority in Ireland agree that the country is not on pace to reach 2030 emissions target, behaviours remain largely unchanged since April 2023, with the cost-of-living crisis playing a part in this. In fact, a notable proportion of the Irish public, 2 in 5, claim they actually try not to think about the climate crisis because of how depressing it is. This correlates with age, with younger people more likely to feel this way, but women being drastically more likely to make this claim.
It seems that switching off is the complete opposite of what is needed at the moment, but who can blame those who do not want to hear doom and gloom?
Yes, there is a rebound (+5% vs April ‘23) in the belief that one’s actions can improve the environment (66% in September ’23), but this still remains significantly lower (-13% versus July ‘19) compared to pre-Covid. Climate conviction remains weakened in the wake of Covid and the cost-of-living crisis, and only time will tell if the rebound noted in September will continue into 2024.
Ireland is not alone. To a large degree, these recent views and behaviours closely mirror those in the UK, with 16% in Ireland believing their country is on pace to hit its 2030 emissions reduction target, versus 14% in the UK. The main difference in views between Ireland and the UK is that consumers in Ireland seem more financially-restricted when it comes to sustainable living, are more prone to consider switching, and there is more of a tendency in Ireland to ‘switch off’ because of how depressing it is to think about the climate crisis. However, some self-reported eco type behaviours are more prominent in the UK than in Ireland, such as opting for sustainable travel over car usage, buying second-hand products, and regularly eating plant-based foods and limiting animal product consumption.
Brands operating in this space in Ireland can take solace in the fact that opportunities do exist, with a resurgence in those seeking out sustainable products, up from 37% in April to 43% now and driven especially by men and those in rural areas. There is also demand for influencers to promote sustainable products more (49%), especially amongst 18-34-year-old women (70%) and those in AB social grades (65%).
However, this is not without its risks and it is important for brands to be as authentic and transparent as possible when it comes to credentials pertaining to sustainability and the environment, as there are those who would strongly consider switching brands if they are suspected of greenwashing, with over 1 in 2 agreeing with this. One really good example of this is Apple’s recent Mother Nature TV ad, which proved to be controversial with its portrayal of Mother Nature as played by actress Octavia Spencer.
Although Apple’s Mother Nature TV ad proved divisive in nature, it is good to see a top brand like Apple making concerted efforts to lead in the area of sustainability and the environment. Despite the risks, more is needed in this area by brands to help encourage the public to change their behaviour in ways that collectively lower our environmental impact in order to tackle the climate crisis. Otherwise, we can expect more weather records to be set in the years to come.
Click below for full reporting and in-depth insights for both Ireland and the UK, including long term trended data and demographic analysis: