cover image to sheffi climate article
November 16, 2020

When it comes to climate change and sustainability, people claim one thing but do another.

Consumers choose economic development over serious climate initiatives. Corporations don't invest in meaningful change because consumers won't pay for it. And governments cannot lead if citizens won't follow. The battle to prevent climate change through behavior modification, regulation, or personal deprivation has already been lost. Yossi Sheffi explains why the solution is a collaborative investment in developing technologies that can reverse climate change.

In Professor Sheffi's 2018 Balancing Green - When to Embrace Sustainability and When not To he cuts through many of the fallacies and wishful thinking that surround sustainability. In this article, Sheffi cites more recent work on the topic.

When it comes to sustainability, people claim one thing but do another. This tendency is known as the "attitude-behavior gap" in marketing and economic literature. In a Nielsen survey, 66 percent of global consumers said they were willing to pay more for sustainability;6 and other surveys produce similar results. Yet studies of actual consumer purchasing behavior find that only 5-12 percent of consumers buy sustainable products, despite the typically small price differences. I confirmed this finding in a study my students and I conducted in 2019 using "consumer observation and intercept" in the aisles at four supermarkets in New England. Worse still, the changes that some conscientious consumers do make to their lifestyles may make them feel better but won't move the needle on sustainability. In fact, consumers who make green choices have been found to have similar environmental footprints to non-green consumers.

So what's to be done? According to the article, 

Companies, which look to the long term, can lead the way by contributing the anchor funding for a massive, international, research effort—a moonshot—to bring the currentt echnologies to the necessary scale and develop new ones that will reverse climate change and enable humanity to continue improving it s standard of living.

Download The Real Inconvenient Truth about Climate Change full article here.

As published in the inaugural edition of:

Management and Business Review