Ahead of COP26, SEC Newgate global ESG poll shows environment and climate top public fears

Ahead of COP26, SEC Newgate global ESG poll shows environment and climate top public fears

An inaugural 10-country global research study of public attitudes to ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) principles for governments and corporates has found that environment, especially climate change, dominates people’s concerns. More than half of consumers say they are willing to boycott companies with poor ESG performance and believe ESG claims should be regulated with penalties imposed for poor practice.

The SEC Newgate ESG Monitor surveying more than 10,000 people in Europe, the Americas and Asia-Pacific found that in all 10 countries, climate change or the environment was the number one ESG concern. It also identified environmental issues including action on climate change and carbon neutrality as being the most powerful factors in determining public perceptions of governments’ and corporates’ ESG performance. The countries surveyed were: Australia, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore, the UK and the U.S.A.

The SEC Newgate ESG Monitor found that people were strongly interested in ESG, with six in 10 rating their interest in ESG issues as high. Other key findings include strong public demand for consistent and measurable ESG reporting, significant levels of social media and buyer’s choice activism in response to poor ESG performance, and demand for all organisations to take responsibility for issues such as their supply chains and contribution to local communities.

SEC Newgate CEO and founder Fiorenzo Tagliabue said: “Strong and growing community focus on ESG matters represents a fundamental challenge for corporates and governments everywhere. SEC Newgate works at the nexus of business, politics, communities and markets and we’re witnessing a sharp increase in  demand for strategic advice and advocacy on ESG – the policies and behaviour relating to ESG issues and how business and government can protect and enhance their reputation in this critical space It’s s why we’re launching the SEC Newgate ESG Monitor, our first global thought leadership initiative, at   a global debate on October 21.”

Among ESG issues, the environment worries people most, with 24% mentioning climate change unprompted and 10% citing environmental issues in general. This reflects the prominence of climate change in the global debate ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow from 31 October. Other top environmental issues were waste management (8%), pollution (6%) and clean air (5%).

SEC Newgate Deputy CEO EMEA Tom Parker said: “Despite unique local issues, the SEC Newgate ESG Monitor revealed a surprising degree of common ground globally. There is a widespread interest in and concern about the ethical and sustainability performance of governments and corporates. This is a truly worldwide phenomenon. The surprising consistency in these results illustrates that all local issues are global and that global issues are local.”

Sectors such as healthcare and technology came out well globally, while chemicals, technology and airlines were seen as weaker on ESG performance.

Sue Vercoe, Managing Director, Social & Market Research, SEC Newgate, whose team conducted the survey, said: “This is the first time we have undertaken a public perceptions study of this kind stretching across multiple countries. What is interesting is how much we learned about the community’s differing expectations towards government and corporates using regression modelling to pinpoint the specific factors that most impact ESG perceptions. There are some clear signals in this research that the public expects government to lead on issues such as the global response to climate change while expecting companies to demonstrate clear evidence that they practice what they preach.

“The global focus on ESG is being driven by individuals and consumers and their perceptions are informing their behaviour and what actions will be most effective for business and government.”

The SEC Newgate ESG Monitor will be an annual benchmarking index to measure global sentiment, so countries can track their performance year on year as well as compare their ranking with peer countries around the world.

For further information or an interview with a SEC Newgate spokesperson, please contact:

APAC – Angus Trigg, angus.trigg@secnewgate.com.au, +61 (0)413 946 708

UK / Americas – Andrew Adie, andrew.adie@secnewgate.co.uk +44 (0)7970 256 512

EU – Victoria Main, vmain@cambre-associates.com, +32 (0)467600 163