Africans see the fight to limit climate change as a responsibility they share with their governments, the developed world, and the private sector, Afrobarometer CEO Joseph Asunka told the Consumers International Global Congress on Friday in Nairobi, Kenya.
In public attitude surveys in 39 African countries, Afrobarometer found that nearly three-quarters of citizens place the primary responsibility for addressing climate change on their governments and themselves while also calling for “a lot more” climate action by wealthy countries and business and industry, Asunka told the gathering.
The Consumers International Global Congress, held every four years, brings together the consumer movement and leading influencers from across business, civil society, and academia to examine pressing global and consumer issues.
Climate change is the focus of a recent Afrobarometer Pan-Africa Profile report that documents the experiences and perceptions of ordinary Africans facing the climate threat. Findings show that substantial proportions of the population have experienced increasing droughts and floods over the past decade. However, only about half of Africans have heard of climate change.
Among those who are aware of climate change, 72% say it is making life more difficult for them, and 74% want their governments to take immediate action to limit climate change, Asunka said.
“Afrobarometer climate change data can contribute to climate policies that align with citizen experiences and expectations,” he said. “For instance, Afrobarometer data show Africans want their governments to take immediate action to limit further deterioration in the climate, even if it is inconvenient or comes at a cost. This data point signals a conducive environment for implementing potentially unpopular climate-mitigation policies but will require strong, upfront education on the net benefit of the policies.”
Erin Turner, CEO of the Consumer Policy Research Centre (Australia), cautioned that many companies claim to sell sustainable products but provide little or no information on their effects on the environment.
“There are a lot of companies in the marketplace that might say they are giving you a green option, an eco or sustainable option, but they don’t necessarily give you details about what they are doing,” Erin said. “Are they good for the environment? It makes it hard for you as an individual to make a good sustainable choice.