As Americans count down to Election Day, more than three-quarters (78%) believe the winner of the presidential race should prioritise the faster adoption of renewable energy, according to the seventh annual Sense & Sustainability® Study released by G&S Business Communications (G&S). The G&S Sense & Sustainability Study was conducted online by Harris Poll in August 2016 among 2007 US adults.
Despite strong public sentiment favouring the next president’s focus on renewables, the G&S study found that American opinion is practically split when it comes to elected leaders and their understanding of the costs associated with fossil fuels. More than half (52%) disagree, as compared to 48% who agree, that elected officials are well informed about fossil energy’s total costs, among them the effects of air pollution on healthcare and the impact of climate change on property insurance.
“Even the contentious nature of this year’s presidential campaign could not distract Americans from recognising the importance of renewable energy to future economic growth and their own personal well-being,” said Ron Loch, G&S Managing Director and Sustainability Consulting Leader. “It is clear that public interest is served when there are discussions about the broader financial impact of fossil energy and the need to improve both energy efficiency and the infrastructure investment required to build a resilient power grid. Industry, government and civil society can better educate and engage by communicating about environmental and social responsibility in ways that tie back to stakeholders’ interests in choice, flexibility and security.”
Targeted communications may help stem the rising number of Americans who choose to be uninformed about corporate sustainability or social responsibility. More than one-quarter of Americans (27%) in 2016 do not use any sources to learn about business efforts to promote environmentally or socially responsible practices or products, up from the previous two years (25% in 2015 and 20% in 2014).
Among the sources Americans rely upon to learn about corporate commitments to 'going green’, the news media remains the most popular for the third year in a row (50% in 2016, 54% in 2015 and 57% in 2014).
Key findings from the study include the following:
- Americans voice strong support for raising the priority of renewables on the White House agenda. More than three-quarters of Americans (78%) believe the next president should dedicate more attention to speeding up renewable energy adoption. Among issues ranked most influential on accelerating use of renewable energy, cost savings from energy efficiency was cited most often (26%), followed by energy security (23%) and cost to taxpayers for government incentives (19%).
- US opinions appear divided when it comes to elected officials and their understanding of the broader financial impact of fossil energy dependence. More than half (52%) disagree, as compared to 48% who agree, that elected leaders are well informed about both direct costs and externalities, including power plant financing and operations, effect of air pollution on healthcare and impact of climate change on property insurance. Regionally, Americans in the Midwest (59%) are more likely than those in the Northeast (49%) and in the South (47%) to disagree that elected officials comprehend the full costs associated with fossil energy.
- For the third consecutive year, the news media remains the top source for Americans to learn about the sustainability efforts of businesses, but there is an increasing trend among those who stay uninformed. For the third year running, Americans say they turn to the news media for information about corporate social responsibility (CSR) and environmental sustainability (50% in 2016, 54% in 2015 and 57% in 2014). More than one-quarter (27%) do not rely on any sources to learn about environmentally and socially responsible practices among businesses, an increase from 25% in 2015 and 20% in 2014.
- Reliance on advertising and personal contacts for CSR news is dwindling. Advertisements continue to experience the greatest decline, dropping in 2016 to 21% as compared to 27% in 2015 and 37% in 2014. Also notable is the downturn in use of ‘word of mouth’ sources such as family and friends, which fell to 34% in 2016, as compared to 40% in 2015 and 41% in 2014.
- For the second year in a row, the same three industries of agriculture, food and beverage, and energy lead with positive reputations for sustainability while manufacturing, leisure services and transportation lag again. Among the industries measured, Americans ranked agriculture (45% in 2016 versus 47% in 2015); food and beverage (40% in 2016 versus 36% in 2015); and energy (37% in 2016 versus 40% in 2015), in the top three with the best reputations for environmental and social responsibility. In comparison, the industries that were ranked lowest, meaning those who were cited least often among the top three best sustainability reputations, are: leisure services, which include hotels, cruise lines, casinos and restaurants (18% in 2016 versus 17% in 2015); transportation, which includes vehicle manufacturers, airlines, rail, infrastructure and logistics (17% in 2016 versus 19% in 2015); and manufacturing (16% in 2016 versus 14% in 2015).
Adapted from press release by Francesca Brindle
Read the article online at: https://www.hydrocarbonengineering.com/the-environment/19092016/study-says-us-president-needs-to-adopt-renewable-energy-faster-4105/