The analysis of the global discourse on the networks regarding the climate crisis reveals high expectations from the business sector to find solutions, while skepticism regarding corporate "greenwash" dominates
Dassault Systems, Capgemini and- Bloom Published the first study in their series of studies under the title "Social Intelligence for Climate Action", which analyzes the reasons why no real actions are taken to deal with the climate crisis despite the growing signs.
According to this study, conducted in the months of February-October 2022, the main obstacle is consumer skepticism created as a result of "greenwash". During this period there was also an increase in ecological anxiety and frustration due to the lack of reliable and relevant information that would guide climate action.
The joint research tries to understand the obstacles to climate action and how people can overcome them to reduce the impact of global warming. To this end, Bloom, an artificial intelligence platform that analyzes social networks, analyzed the global climate discourse, and especially the obstacles to climate action, using a reference matrix. Over 8 months, more than 330 million people spoke passionately about the issue. Although skepticism regarding the climate crisis is considered a marginal phenomenon (which, in addition, produces a disproportionate echo, especially in the United States), the debate revolves around the best way to deal with it, and this in a year characterized by worsening weather disturbances with dramatic costs in human lives (heat waves, droughts, fires, floods, hurricanes...).
Below are the main barriers to climate action as shown by the study in order of prominence:
- Disconnected optimism of companies and institutions regarding their environmental progress, whether significant or minor. While the real impact of this progress is often difficult to measure, excessive and self-interested positive publicity, which sometimes also contradicts the opinion of experts (in which case it can be considered "greenwash"), creates dissonance that breeds distrust and harms the motivation to act. Consumers, especially the younger ones, know a thing or two about these issues and have developed a special sensitivity. "Detached optimism" also concerns those who believe that technology is the solution to the climate emergency to such an extent that there is no need to act.
- Lack of reliable information about solutions. People, who search for the "right information" in their own way, are paralyzed by contradictory or incorrect information, which causes mistrust and a feeling of helplessness. During the year 2022, there was an increase in the number of posts and the rate of engagement on this topic, including strong negative emotions. In this context, institutions and authorities such as the IPCC, which published its 6th report (the UN climate report) in April 2022, are considered reliable, and the public expects these publications.
- Fear that climate measures will have negative social consequences. The concept of social justice is at the heart of the climate discourse. In a year marked by inflation, the cost of living is becoming an increasingly relevant issue in the discussion of the drastic lifestyle changes needed to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (energy, transportation, food, etc.). There is a fear that precisely the weaker populations will be the first to be affected.
- Delegation of authority. There is a perception that climate action is something that "someone else should do." Not necessarily me." The report shows that businesses are seen as being able to operate effectively in the long term, ahead of individual actions and far ahead of governments. Consumers believe that the small individual actions can no longer be enough, given the urgency and scope of today's climate crisis, and that businesses, which are seen as responsible for part of the problem, have the ability to influence more widely and faster than governments.
- Desperation from climate change. People feel powerless against the impact of climate change, to the point of complete lack of motivation. This barrier, identified by an increasing number of posts and comments during 2022, has the highest engagement figures and the highest rate of negative sentiment of all the barriers studied.
An accurate scientific measurement is needed, to avoid green boasting in vain
"In the fight against climate change, two elements will make the difference: accurate scientific measurement, and cooperation and dialogue between all those involved. Our scientific measurement, simulation and ball understanding capabilities have advanced in recent years, enabling increasingly accurate simulations and hypotheses thanks to AI. At the same time, we must strengthen our abilities to listen to all the parties involved, including the citizens so that everyone can contribute, from their place, to the necessary change", said Filippin de T'sercles, Chief Sustainability Officer, Dassault Systèmes. "In order to succeed in the changes of the 21st century, we will have to maintain and strengthen the connection between science, citizens, businesses and public institutions. In an era of platforms, we can smartly harness new capabilities of collaboration, observation and communication, such as social media, to understand attitudes and overcome barriers to climate action. This understanding will allow industries to use the collective imagination to lead other innovation."
"Public opinion is based on extensive knowledge about the necessary climate action and an understanding of the extent to which it should take place," adds Cyril Garcia, head of global sustainability services and corporate responsibility at Capgemini and member of the group's board. "Our research shows that businesses are on the front line, not only demanding to adapt their business models to a more sustainable economy, but also to be more clear and transparent about the impact of their actions. It is clear that today we do not have the tools to meet these requirements. The challenge for them will now be to work more closely with their partners and customers to restore trust and move all stakeholders to a low-carbon economy."
Bloom's research reveals that the journey to sustainable development is not immune to biased information and misleading influence. The lack of strong arguments leads to doubt, suspicion and despair in the face of the commitments of companies or governments. It is essential for brands to build a new and more solid narrative", concludes Bruno Berton, founder and CEO of Bloom.
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