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Climate Action Research 2021

Together with GlobeScan, an independent insights and advisory consultancy, we conducted research among over 34,000 people across 32 countries in 2021 to learn more about how people think, feel and act in relation to climate change.

Three quarters of people would like to see significant action from businesses and governments

People recognise that systemic change is needed alongside individual action to make a meaningful difference and are looking to businesses and governments for more leadership.

Climate Action at home

The overall level of individual climate action is broadly similar to 2019, both globally and within countries. Yet there are small pockets and areas around the world that are bucking the trend with positive change.

Plant-based diets

  • Whilst those eating primarily plant-based foods remains flat at 13% (compared to 2019) globally, we see some interesting trends in specific countries
  • In the USA alone, the rate of vegetarianism has doubled from 8% in 2017 to 16% in 2021.
  • There have also been increases in Sweden, the UK and Central European countries including Austria, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland.
  • Vegetarianism is not up everywhere, however, with more people in China and India saying that meat is now an important part of their diet compared to in 2017.
  • 18-24 yr olds are the biggest champions of plant-based foods. Nearly one in five (19%) say they eat vegetarian or vegan food all or most of the time.

Shopping and consumption

  • People recognise the need to consume less. Nearly three-quarters of people (72%) agree that we all should consume less to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
  • A quarter of people (26%) say they mostly try to avoid buying new products, to reduce their impact on the environment, and further 40% say they avoid it sometimes.
  • Buying second-hand products is also increasing among some groups including the young: 25% of 18-24 yr olds say they buy second-hand items or clothing most or all of the time and this rises to 30% of young people in the USA.
  • However, the attachment to buying new things is still strong, with just over one third of people (36%) saying they like to buy new things most or all of the time. This is also higher among younger people.

Wasting less, keeping materials in use for longer

  • Six in ten people (62%) in 2021 say they always or mostly try to repair their household items before buying new replacements.
  • In China, India and Russia more people report sorting their waste for recycling this year than in previous years.
  • In Europe, recycling rates at home remain very high with 88% of people in Central Europe saying they sort their waste for recycling most or all of the time.

Climate Action Research – Together with GlobeScan

Survey disclaimer

This survey was conducted online using national consumer research panels to recruit respondents in 32 countries with a total sample size of 34,059 adults (aged 18+).

The study ran in May and June 2021 in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, Ukraine and the USA.

We aimed to achieve a representative sample in each of these countries, with quotas in place for gender, age, region and education levels. However, in emerging economies, particularly China and India, where online access is not as widespread across all regions, the views of lower income, less educated and rural communities are underrepresented. Data from each of the 32 countries are weighted equally.

The findings build on two previous studies conducted in 2017 and 2019. The 2017 study covered 14 markets and the 2019 study covered 30 markets in total.