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Apr 24, 2024

Earth Day poll finds waning global interest in climate change, but most still want businesses to act

Ipsos research notes that younger generations are most pessimistic about tackling climate change

Monday this week was Earth Day, the annual event focused on showing support for environmental protection.

This year’s celebration appears to have passed with a little less fanfare, at least from the perspective of my inbox. There are notably fewer people getting in touch wanting to talk about their new ESG or sustainability initiatives than I remember from previous years.

But what does the bigger picture look like? Market research firm Ipsos carries out a survey every year around Earth Day to look at global attitudes toward climate change. Like my inbox, the mood is one of waning interest, although the majority of people still believe climate action remains a critical goal for companies. 

In the research, which polled more than 24,000 people across 33 countries, 58 percent of respondents agree with the statement: ‘If businesses... do not act now to combat climate change, they will be failing their employees and customers’. The figure was much higher three years ago, however, when it stood at 70 percent.

One of the main surprises from the report is that while younger people are often considered to be more optimistic about environmental issues, it’s actually newer generations that are more pessimistic about the fight against global warming.

Ipsos finds that 73 percent of Boomers and 71 percent of Gen Xers agree with the statement: ‘If everyone made small changes in their everyday lives, this could have a big impact on tackling climate change’. But the figure is lower for Millennials (68 percent ) and Gen Zers (63 percent).

‘Millennial and Gen Z men feel more apathetic and fatalistic about climate change compared with older generations and women,’ notes the report. ‘Three in 10 say it’s already ‘too late’ to tackle climate change.’

What does this mean for IR teams? It confirms that the broader mood is shifting on climate issues, but that most people still want to see companies taking action to alleviate the effects of global warming. The results also challenge some preconceived notions, such as that younger people will naturally be more receptive to environmental initiatives.

For businesses, however, the more critical trend is the shift from voluntary to mandatory reporting on climate and other ESG issues that we are seeing around the world, such as the development of the SEC’s climate disclosure rules. While the public focus on climate change may be softening, it’s an area listed companies need to concentrate on more than ever.

How are you seeing conversations with investors shift on ESG issues? Get in touch and let us know at or on LinkedIn.