The Pandemic is Heightening Environmental Awareness

If there was concern that the COVID-19 pandemic would somehow cause citizens around the world to lose sight of the urgency of the climate change crisis and the need for environmental action in general, that worry can be put to rest. A recent BCG survey of more than 3,000 people across eight countries has found that in the wake of the pandemic people are more concerned—not less—about addressing environmental challenges and are more committed to changing their own behavior to advance sustainability.

The heightened awareness is striking. Some 70% of survey participants said they were more aware now than before COVID-19 that human activity threatens the climate is and that degradation of the environment, in turn, threatens humans. And three-quarters of respondents said environmental issues are as concerning as—or more concerning than—health issues.

The survey also found that people want to see aggressive action on the environmental front. More than two-thirds of respondents think that economic recovery plans should make environmental issues a priority. The crisis is driving change at the individual level, too, with 40% reporting that they intend to adopt more sustainable behavior in the future. Among the top actions people are doing more consistently are reducing household energy consumption, increasing recycling and composting, and buying locally produced goods.

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The increased commitment to sustainability has major implications for companies and governments. Overall, respondents thought that governments and companies had not responded to the COVID-19 crisis as effectively as health personnel, NGOs, and global health agencies. In addition, 87% said companies should integrate environmental concerns into their products, services, and operations to a greater extent than they have in the past. The commitment to sustainability is even more pronounced among younger people, who have a stronger conviction that personal behavior can make a difference in addressing environmental action and who expect environmental concerns to be front and center in recovery plans.

Explore more of our insights into how COVID-19 is reshaping how people think about the sustainability in the following slideshow.

The survey was conducted in partnership with coding and sampling provider Dynata, the world’s largest first-party data and insights platform.