What motivates people to act more sustainably?

Kaycee Enerva

Kaycee Enerva


As climate change becomes more evident and climate-related issues rise, people have become more willing to change their behaviour to help preserve the planet. But what motivates people to work towards climate action?

A recent report from global audit and consulting firm Deloitte has collected data from a survey of 23,000 people across 23 countries to see what motivates people to act more sustainably and how those decisions impact their choices. 

“As business leaders, there is a real opportunity to create a narrative of hope that will drive widespread behavioural change,” said David McCarthy, executive leader for climate and sustainability, Deloitte.

“We shouldn’t sugarcoat the challenges but emphasise a way forward rooted in action.” 

The study showed that 63 per cent of respondents with children at home are more worried or anxious about climate change than the 55 per cent without children.  

“It’s not surprising that the Australian sustainability standard setters are those with children who care deeply about their kids’ future,” explains Vanessa Matthijssen, national consumer product and retail lead at Deloitte. “This is a substantial part of the population making key purchasing decisions.”

She added that this offers an opportunity for businesses who offer products supported by sustainable practices as the trend of conscious consumption continues to trend.

According to the firm, a “typical” sustainability standard-setter identifies as female, 25-44 years old, high income, has at least one child at home, has experienced at least one climate event in the last six months, and feels anxious about climate change recently.

This example, stated by the firm, highlights the impact life-changing moments have on people’s behaviour toward climate change and their decisions as they take responsibility for their actions and how they will plan out their future.

While 72 per cent of respondents described climate change as an emergency, the report shows a strong link between action and optimism, with 72 per cent of sustainability standard-setters optimistic the world will handle climate change.

Will Symons, climate and sustainability leader at Deloitte Asia Pacific, said action on climate change has gone from being one of the most divisive issues to something that everyone (almost) agrees upon.

“Action on climate change is good for the economy and good for jobs, and we should never underestimate the impact individual attitudes and actions can have,” he said.

Kaycee Enerva

Kaycee Enerva

A digital content manager based in the Philippines, Kaycee Enerva has written for multiple publications over several years. A graduate of Computer Science, she exchanged a career in IT to pursue her passion for writing. She's slowly practicing sustainability through period cups, and eating more plant-based food.

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