Nearly nine out of 10 consumers worldwide said they would switch to energy providers that offer products and services that help reduce the level of greenhouse gas emissions, according to a study on climate change released last month by Accenture.

The study, based on a survey of more than 7,500 consumers in 17 countries in North America, Europe and Asia, found that 89 percent of all consumers surveyed would switch to energy providers that offer lower-carbon-emitting products and services.

While respondents across the world are concerned about climate change and its impact, the concern appears to be greatest in emerging-market countries. Ninety-seven percent of consumers surveyed in Brazil, China and India said they are concerned about climate change, compared with 85 percent of all respondents, and 98 percent of respondents in those three emerging-market countries said they believe that climate change will directly affect their lives, compared with just 73 percent of respondents in Europe.

Respondents in emerging-market countries are also the most aware of the level of effort required for their countries to achieve their targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For instance, more than 80 percent of emerging-market respondents said they avoid taking the car (82 percent, compared with an average of 68 percent for all other respondents) and avoid buying food imported by plane (82 percent, compared with an average of 63 percent for all other respondents). Nine out of 10 of all respondents said they would have a negative perception of any energy provider that is not taking concrete action to address climate change. Further, more than half (54 percent) said they would be willing to switch electricity and gas providers if their current provider didn’t take action to address climate change, and 61 percent said the same of their oil providers.

In addition, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents said they would be willing to pay a higher price — a premium of 11 percent, on average — for products and services that produce lower greenhouse gas emissions.

"Accenture’s research suggests that while the initial impact in business terms may be most evident on energy providers, it seems likely that this impact will increasingly spread to other resources companies either directly or as the impacts trickle through the supply chain from consumer-facing businesses,” said Sander van ’t Noordende, group chief executive of Accenture’s Resources operating group. “From oil and gas companies to retailers to financial services companies to governments, no provider of products or services will be immune from consumers’ scrutiny and action.”The study found that individuals are taking the lead on climate change in response to deep concern over its effects on their everyday lives. The vast majority (85 percent) of respondents said they are either ‘extremely’ or ‘somewhat’ concerned about climate change, and 81 percent said they believe it will directly affect their lives.While the majority (more than 80 percent) of consumers said they believe that climate change will have the greatest impact on weather and the ecosystem, three out of four (74 percent) said they believe it will also have a significant effect on people’s health. "This seismic and rapid shift in the global consumer landscape presents major opportunities for companies who take the lead in addressing consumers’ climate change concerns and values, giving them a competitive advantage and differentiation in the eyes of consumers,” said van ’t Noordende.The study also shows that consumers are already acting on their concerns about climate change. Most survey respondents said they ‘frequently’ recycle paper or plastic (71 percent of respondents), shut down electric devices when not in use (62 percent), turn down the heating or air-conditioning at home (61 percent), and use high-efficiency light bulbs (59 percent). More than one in three (41 percent) said they regularly buy products containing recycled material.

Methodology

Accenture’s Climate Change study is based on an online survey conducted with 7,526 consumers in 17 countries around the world to elicit opinions on climate change. Consumers were interviewed in North America (1,511 interviewees), Europe (3,512 interviewees), Japan and Australia (1,001 interviewees), as well as in the emerging-market countries of Brazil, China and India (1,502 interviewees). The sample was representative of the general population in the different countries except in the emerging-market countries, where a sample representative of each country’s urban population was interviewed.