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Press Release: Americans Believe Climate Change is Real, Consumers Expect Action from Companies on Sustainability

November 17, 2011

To read the reports on Sustainability and Cause Marketing, click here.

CHICAGO, November 16, 2011 – The majority of Americans, over 60 percent, believe that climate change is real, and 78 percent think companies should take action to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. These and other results in the Second Annual Public Opinion Survey on Sustainability, released by Do Well Do Good, LLC, add context to the finding that 83 percent of Americans expect companies to accomplish their business goals while improving society and the environment.

New questions in the survey reveal insights into how Americans perceive climate change. The results show that the majority of Americans, 64 percent, believe climate change or global warming is real, and 65 percent believe that humans have contributed to the problem.

“Companies should no longer ignore the warning signs,” said James Epstein-Reeves, president of Do Well Do Good, LLC. “Consumers see an interconnected world and expect companies to do more than just make money. There’s strong support for companies to connect the needs of society with the business. Handling social and environmental issues through sustainability or corporate social responsibility can be a strategic move, if done properly.”

The study finds that 68 percent favor government regulations to force companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and 58 percent favor financial incentives to motivate reductions. Although Americans hold businesses responsible for their emissions, only 40 percent feel confident that companies in the United States are looking for ways to decrease their emissions.

Nearly half of Americans believe climate change has affected them personally in the form of air pollution or extreme weather. In addition, a majority of Americans believe climate change is affecting people outside of their own community:

  • Affected me personally – 47%
  • Affected my community – 47%
  • Affected people in my state – 53%
  • Affected people in my country – 62%
  • Affected people in other parts of the world – 65%

The survey on sustainability indicates that 70 percent of consumers agree that a company’s CEO holds a high level of accountability for the organization’s positive or negative impacts on the environment, employees, and the larger community. In contrast, they said employees, middle management, and other executives have a lower level of responsibility.

More than half of Americans, 71 percent, said they would switch to a competitor if a company employs children under the age of 10 in sweatshop factories. Likewise, 65 percent and 38 percent of consumers, respectively, would switch brands or services if a company harms the environment or gives little or no money to charity.

The same group of consumers said it would take corrective actions, not just words, for them to resume purchasing from or supporting a business.  If the company made “some changes” to its business processes, 45 percent would return. This figure jumps to 72 percent if the company makes a “complete overhaul” and 67 percent if the company makes a financial commitment to those most affected. While public apologies are important, only 38 percent said an apology from the CEO would influence them to return.

The summary reports on cause marketing and sustainability for the Second Annual Public Opinion Surveys are available for free on the company’s web site: The surveys were conducted through an online panel organized by Qualtrics Labs, Inc. From October 28 and November 2, 2011, the surveys polled 1,001 individuals, 500 women and 501 men. The survey is estimated to have an error rate of +/- 3.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

Do Well Do Good, LLC partners with companies and nonprofit organizations whose leadership wishes to increase the positive impact of their sustainability, cause marketing, and philanthropy initiatives. Do Well Do Good, LLC provides the tools and enhances the skills of program managers in order to implement a clear and comprehensive strategy, improve communication between internal and external audiences, and integrate programs throughout all levels of the company. For more information visit


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