Epson climate reality barometer reveals startling climate reality deficit

Craig Heckenberg, Managing Director at Epson for Australia and New Zealand

To mark 50 days before the start of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26), in UK, Epson has announced the results of its Climate Reality Barometer.

Epson’s research discovers a potentially damaging gap that is between climate reality and the people’s understanding of its catastrophic effects over the years.

Epson 2021 Climate Reality Barometer

The survey captures global experiences and perceptions of climate change from over 15,000 consumers across Australia, Asia, Europe, North America and South America.
Timed to help framing discussions at the COP 26, the main goal of Epson Climate Reality Barometer is to raise public awareness of the climate change impacts, influencing transformative business decisions, and better inform policy makers globally.
When questioned about their views on humanity’s ability to avert a climate crisis within their lifetimes, close to half of all respondents (46%) state they are “very” or “somewhat” optimistic.

This significantly outweighs just 27% who express that they are very or somewhat pessimistic.

As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, some of the human-driven climate changes will take millennia to reverse.

And given a litany of global events that include the warmest July that has ever been recorded, wildfires in Europe, North America and Asia, and floods in China, Columbia and Germany;

Epson’s research findings of the Climate Reality Barometer suggest a larger triumph of optimism over evidence of a damaging Climate Reality Deficit. 
The most popular reasons supporting this optimism are growing public awareness of climate change(32%), Science and Technology solutions (28%) and use of renewable energies (19%). 
Epson ANZ Managing Director, Craig Heckenberg said, “This is a wake-up call for everyone to work together, make right decisions and inspire the right actions moving forward.” 

“Epson is helping create a sustainable future for us through our patented Heat-Free technology that uses up to 94% less energy as compared to an equivalent laser printer or copier.” 

“Heat-Free technology is helping industries globally to move towards a more sustainable future and Epson is confident we can achieve the same result when it comes to printing.”
At Epson, as well as using the Heat-Free printing technology, the company has made a significant R&D investment in environmental technologies such as naturally derived materials.
Beyond product and materials innovation, the government, businesses and individuals can always make big differences by promoting and demonstrating climate responsibility.

Epson carries this forward by transitioning to 100% renewable electricity and engaging with initiatives such as the RE100 renewable energy project, working to close the resource loop.

Product refurbishment, reuse, and engaging in impact partnerships such as its work with National Geographic in protecting permafrost through the Turn Down the Heat Campaign.

Feeling about Epson’s research in Australia

In the past few months, it’s been reported that Australia has warmed on average by 1.4 degrees centigrade since national records began in 1910. This trend has led to an increase in the number of extreme heat events, as well as increased fire danger days.

Despite this, over a third (37.7%) of people surveyed as part of the Epson Climate Reality Barometer in Australia, are optimistic that we will avert a climate disaster in their lifetime. 

Optimism is belief that people are aware of climate change dangers, effective government action and the opportunity to use science and technology to solve problems. 

33.5% of Australians were pessimistic that we will avert a climate disaster in their lifetime. These are driven by a belief that people are not aware of climate change dangers.

Epson’s assessment of Australia

The top three events most associated with climate change in Australia were:

  • Higher temperatures (74.9%)
  • More wildfires (73.2%)
  • Declining water supplies (70.2%)

With the least recognized being:

  • Insect outbreaks (43%)
  • Thawing permafrost (44.9%)
  • Famine (48.2%)

Many in Australia, nearly a third, 31.7% of those surveyed, believe governments should be most responsible for tackling the climate emergency.

Next are 11.7% who say businesses should be most responsible, with one in 20, which is 4.9%, not believing in a climate change emergency.

12.6% of Australian respondents see that they are responsible, while over a third believe that we’re all responsible with action incumbent on governments, businesses and individuals alike.

In Australia, the top three actions people report that they are already doing, include: 

  • Improving recycling habits 74.3%
  • Reducing plastic use 67.5%
  • Walking or cycling more often 52.7%

Of the Australian respondents, 50.4% are planning to switch to an electric vehicle in the future, 50.4% plan to switch to renewable energy and 35.6% planning to boycott unsustainable brands.

40.1% of respondents from Australia believe that they will never adopt to a plant-based diet.

Epson’s recommendations for Australia

The Epson Climate Reality Barometer and its discovery show that there is a long way to go if we are to take the fundamental actions necessary to avert irreversible climate change.

Working together, Epson believes that we can all build a better future using the Climate Reality Barometer and the business reality is that the time to act is now.

The Climate Reality Barometer suggests that climate crisis remains something that happens to someone else. It suggests that now is the time for companies of all to play a bigger role.

As the global survey reveals that 14% of respondents recognize big businesses as most responsible for tackling the climate emergency, and 3% small companies.

Yasunori Ogawa, Global Vice President of Epson said, “The discovery of the Climate Reality Deficit shows awareness coupled with action, will be critical to tackling the emergency.”

“Epson’s goal is to bring this awareness and the technologies needed by our company, other businesses and consumers to action transformational change.”

“Sustainability is central to our business plan and backed by significant resources because while we know there is a long way to go, we believe we can build a better future.”

Epson Climate Reality Barometer 2021 summary

As the world gathers for COP 26, Epson’s Climate Reality Barometer captures global attitudes to a rapidly unfolding and increasingly immediate climate emergency.

Surveying 15,264 people across 15 countries and three continents, the Epson Climate Reality Barometer’s findings suggest a damaging gap between perception and reality. 

Epson calls the Climate Reality Deficit which presents challenges to globally coordinated responses. To tackle a problem, we must first fully understand what that problem is. 

The Epson Climate Reality Barometer helps to discover global experiences and perceptions of climate change. In expanding our knowledge, we can work to raise awareness, influence business decisions and inform policy makers to focus attention on what really matters.

Reality deficit

In August 2021 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that, even with massive emissions reductions, some climate change events could take millennia to reverse.

Yet, the Epson Climate Reality Barometer discovers that 46% of people surveyed are still optimistic that we will be able to solve the climate crisis within their lifetime. 

37% UK adults are optimistic they will avert a climate disaster, this is driven by the fact people are aware of climate change dangers, 32% are moving from fossil fuels to renewable sources.

Not only this, but 30% of UK adults are pessimistic they will avert a climate disaster in their lifetime, this pessimism is most driven by the lack of government action.

The Epson Climate Reality Barometer reveals that for some, optimism can tip over into delusion. One in 11 Americans and over three million Britons don’t believe in the climate crisis.

Reality check

Additionally, a potential reason for this optimism could be that many of us fail to recognize all the evidence of climate change even when we have the chance to see it.

Given the current news agenda, the top three events most associated with climate change are 

  • 77% — rising temperatures
  • 74% — extreme weather events 
  • 73% — wildfires 

Worryingly, many existential threats aren’t associated with climate change, making it harder to act effectively. The three events least linked to the climate emergency include

  • 57% — famine 
  • 55% — mass migration 
  • 51% — insect outbreaks

Reality responsibility

Many believe action should come from elsewhere as 27% say governments, 18% that businesses are responsible for tackling climate change with 5% not believing in a climate emergency.

Encouragingly, 18% of respondents see individuals as responsible, 31% believe action has to be collective with action incumbent on governments, businesses and individuals. 

Reality action

These findings beg a further question. In accepting that we all bear collective responsibility, what actions do we already, or are planning to take to tackle the climate change crisis? 

Transport generates between 20% and 25% of global carbon emissions, 16% don’t plan to reduce international business, leisure travel and some will never switch to an electric vehicle. 

With the UN report that meat and dairy production generates over 14% of global carbon emissions, astonishingly, a quarter state that they will never switch to a plant-based diet.

If we focus on those who will alter these behaviours as in total, 65% of people agree to have already reduced international business and leisure travel but quarter have yet do so.

68% state they will move to EVs, but over half of those surveyed still haven’t made the switch and while 58% agree to a plant-based diet, more than a quarter are waiting to change.

Progress is slow even if we look at purely personal choices, such as boycotting unsustainable brands. While 63% have done this, more than a third haven’t changed their shopping habits.

There is a clear disconnect between the scale of the emergency and individual action.

Business reality, time to act 

At Epson, there is a great understanding that the threat of catastrophic climate change cannot be ignored as the time for harnessing sustainable technologies is in the present times. 

Businesses have a major role to play in coordinated global responses. Epson commits to innovations such as Heat-Free technologies; and R&D in environmental technology.

Epson is part of the RE100 initiative, moving to 100% renewable electricity and works to close the resource loop through refurbishment and re-use; and engages in powerful partnerships.

In following this path, Epson aims to inspire and support businesses both large and small as they bring about the transformational change needed to tackle the climate emergency.

The Epson Climate Reality Barometer and its discovery of the Climate Reality Deficit shows there is a long way to go if we are to take the fundamental actions to avert climate change.

Greater understanding and collective endeavor, however, will enable and empower rapid action. Working together, Epson believes that we can all build a better future.