Optimism is Lower in most Developed Economies: Epson Survey

"Optimism is Lower in most Developed Economies" is a finding in Epson's second Climate Reality Barometer.

It's a great concern for The Centre for Optimism and key to our work to ask people what makes them optimistic and encourage them to adopt habits that increase their own optimism and spread optimism.

It reflects the concerns too of Singapore's senior minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam who in a speech two weeks ago said "We have entered an era without precedent, certainly not in living memory, and it has led to a loss of optimism almost across the world. There are few exceptions, there are still some very optimistic societies in Asia, but by and large, it has led to a loss of optimism globally. There's data for this in the advanced world. Pew Research surveys of optimism in some 19 advanced countries, more advanced countries including Singapore, and the conclusions from this year's survey done in March were very troubling across the advanced world. Barely 27% of parents expect their children to have a better future than them. Barely 27%!"

Read Tharman on The Need for More Optimism

Epson's second Climate Reality Barometer

Epson concludes, "Despite a year of unprecedented climate impacts, the survey reveals that people are increasingly optimistic that climate disaster can be averted in their lifetime.

From a global perspective, "fixing the economy" (22%) and "rising prices" (21%) ranked at the top of the list of respondents' priorities, with climate change ranked a very close third (20%). Despite the global economic downturn, conflicts and soaring energy bills, the climate crisis remains front of mind for many people globally. 

Epson states, "Climate concerns, however, aren't leading to pessimism."

"Prior to COP 26 in November 2021, 46% of global respondents were optimistic that climate catastrophe could be averted within a lifetime. As the world prepares for COP 27 in Egypt this year, optimism has risen to over 48%.  

"Drilling down further, it's clear that global averages mask startling regional variations in confidence levels. Optimism is lower in most developed economies, for example than in emerging ones.  

  • The individual country members of the G7 all record levels of optimism significantly below the 48% global average: Canada (36.6%); France (22.5%); Germany (23.8%); Italy (25.2%); Japan (10.4%); the U.K. (28.4%); and the U.S. (39.4%).
  • Rapidly emerging and fast-growing economies record levels of climate optimism significantly above the global average: China (76.2%); India (78.3%); Indonesia (62.6%); Kenya (76%); Mexico (66%); and the Philippines (71.9%).

Yasunori Ogawa, global president of Epson, commented, "Epson's corporate purpose is focused on improving lives and the planet, and we will devote significant resources to achieve this. As the world gathers for COP 27, our Climate Reality Barometer aims to raise awareness and empower transformational change. We hope that the Barometer's insights will help governments, industries, and individuals to step up their efforts to avert climate disaster. While we know there is a long way to go, we believe we can build a better future if we work together and act now.

Reality Action: Motivation and Individual Steps Toward Change in the U.S.

"Promisingly, many U.S. citizens are already taking action to mitigate the climate emergency. The top three actions people report they are already doing include reducing plastic use (46.1%); improving recycling habits (45.4%); and using more reusable goods i.e., fabric face masks (44.5%). In addition, survey respondents stated that the key factors motivating personal action include witnessing the impact of climate change (30.3%); government policy changes (29.6%); and social media (27.8%).

"Despite this, there are still a number of gaps in terms of what people are willing to do, which will be important in reaching net zero targets at a global and national level. Only one in 10 (11.9%) have switched to an electric vehicle, and a quarter (24.1%) say they never will, though promisingly nearly half (40.7%) are planning to in the future. A fifth (19.7%) say they will never travel less for business and leisure, though promisingly a third (33.2%) say they already have.

"However, of those who have taken up actions to mitigate the impacts of climate change, a number of them are consistently committed to these actions.

"Over a third (36.9%) have tried recycling for longer than a year and still do this. Over a quarter (27.8%) have tried reducing plastic use for longer than a year and still do this. A quarter (28.1%) have tried using renewable energy resources for at least six months.

"Environmental scientist and Co-CE of Change by Degrees, Dr. Tara Shine, said, "The harsh reality is that the past seven years have been the warmest on record and we run a real risk of passing safe temperature limits. Yet this survey shows that people across the world remain hopeful that their actions alongside those of government and corporations can transform society for the better. The immediate challenges facing economies around the globe, including rising energy and food prices, are both causes and symptoms of climate change. Planning for the long term and enabling people to take climate action now is the most powerful action countries can take to sustain climate optimism, reduce carbon pollution and build resilience to climate impacts."

"Unqualified optimism might be seen as wishful thinking, but Epson's findings show that respondents do recognise the impacts of climate change. More than eight in 10 people (80.2%) cite the evidence of their own eyes – witnessing climate change in their daily lives – as the most influential factor in building awareness. Other significant climate information influences include: 

  • 75.7% cite government action and/or campaigns
  • 75% cite on and offline news
  • 74.2% cite social media
  • 64.8% cite business or community campaigns
  • 64% cite COP conferences

"t appears that, in 2022, optimism isn't leading to complacency, but rather spurring people to action. Between 2021 and 2022, the number of respondents who have, or plan to:  

  • Walk and/or cycle more has grown from around 83.7% to 87.2% – 31.8% have done so for more than a year
  • Change to renewable energies has grown from 78.2% to 82.4% – 18.6% have done so for more than a year
  • Reduce international business and leisure travel has grown from 65.1% to 68.2% – 23% have done so for more than a year
  • Switch to electric vehicles has grown from 68% to 72.7% – 10.6% have done so for more than a year
  • Adopt a plant-based diet has grown from 67.6% to 68.9% – 16.5% have done so for more than a year

Epson's 2022 Climate Reality Barometer surveyed 26,205 general respondents from the following markets: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, U.K., U.S., and Vietnam.


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