Australians are unwilling to trade their lifestyle for the environment. A 17-country green study conducted by market intelligence group TNS found that cost is one of our greatest barriers to adopting ‘green’ behaviours.
The ‘Our Green World’ study revealed that, when asked to rate the condition of their own natural environment, globally six in ten think their local environment is ‘poor’ or ‘fair’, while only four in ten Australians share the same opinion.
The remaining 58% of Australians rate the condition of our environment as ‘excellent’, ‘very good’ or ‘good’, a level of regard surpassed by only one other country involved in the study – Singapore, where 81% of citizens hold a positive opinion of their local environment.
Only two other countries also recorded a majority with a positive opinion of their own environment – the United States and the United Kingdom both at 51%.
Kate Snow, director with TNS Social Research says that the results show there are high levels of concern for the global environment, as well as for local environments, almost universally worldwide.
“The majority of Australians have positive opinions about our environment at home, but this appears to be resulting in a lower urgency towards adopting ‘green’ behaviour when a lifestyle trade-off is involved. We are seeing that Australians are willing to make changes in areas that have little impact on lifestyle but are less willing to make more significant changes for the benefit of the environment.”
When asked if they have changed their behaviour to benefit the environment in the recent past, 53% of Australians state they have made changes; however, only 8% have made ‘a great deal’ of change, with the remaining 45% having made ‘a good amount’ of change.
The main barriers to uptake of green initiatives that emerged were the cost of going green and poor perceptions of public transport which were issues for at least four in ten Australians. One in four also agreed they would love to do more for the environment but are put off by confusion arising from conflicting information. A lack of awareness of what to do and a lack of time to make changes were issues for one in five Australians.
Amongst the countries surveyed, Australia ranked fifth in terms of the amount of behaviour change made to benefit the environment in the recent past but was above the global average of 40%.
When asked to rate the condition of the natural environment in the world generally, 78% of respondents globally rate it as ‘poor’ or ‘fair’. Amongst Australians, 71% feel that the natural environment in the world generally is ‘poor’ or ‘fair’.
In five countries – Japan, Brazil, France, Russia and Argentina – 90% or more feel that the world’s natural environment is ‘poor’ or ‘fair’.
When it comes to identifying which countries people feel are to blame, China and the United States are the most frequently mentioned globally. Other countries named were India, Japan, Indonesia, Russia and Brazil.
Interestingly, the US is the most self-critical with 63% of Americans nominating their home country as the most damaging. For Australians, the countries causing the most worry are China (63%), the US (49%) and India (28%).