Ewan Larkin
Nov 20, 2023

Businesses are no longer trusted on climate change: Edelman report

Edelman’s latest Trust Barometer surveyed 14,000 people across regions including APAC to understand the public’s perception of the climate crisis.

Three-quarters of respondents worry about climate change. (Photo credit: Getty Images)
Three-quarters of respondents worry about climate change. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

Businesses are no longer trusted by most of the general public on climate change, according to Edelman’s latest Trust Barometer report. 

Forty-nine percent of respondents said they trust businesses to do “what’s right” on climate change, according to the report, which surveyed roughly 14,000 people in 14 countries, including Brazil, China, Germany, India, the U.A.E., U.K. and the U.S.

That figure is a 5% decrease from Edelman’s 2022 climate research. Non-governmental organizations (58%) are the most institution on climate change, followed by the government (50%) and media (44%). 

Nearly all groups of people surveyed, including activists and national environmental authorities, experienced significant declines, with scientists and experts most trusted (73%), but CEOs least trusted (39%).

However, the climate crisis is universally recognized, according to Edelman. An overwhelming majority of respondents (93%) said that climate change poses a serious and imminent threat to the planet, fueled by their personal connections.

Seventy-one percent said the weather where they live has gotten more extreme over the past few years; 45% said their health or that of their family has gotten worse due to climate change; and 72% said they worry climate change will make life difficult for them and their families.

More than three quarters of respondents are worried about climate change, and the majority (55%) are also pessimistic about solutions. 

Edelman itself has come under scrutiny from climate activists. The Chicago-based agency’s clients have ranged from ExxonMobil, Saudi Arabia and Shell to COP28 host country the United Arab Emirates, which has faced blowback for its oil and gas production.

During the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity in June, members of activist group Clean Creatives held placards pointing at CEO Richard Edelman as part of a campaign to stop PR agencies working with fossil fuel corporations. In 2021, dozens of celebrities and influencers signed a petition asking the firm to stop working with fossil-fuel clients. In response, Edelman conducted a client review and published principles for determining which companies it works with. 

Edelman reported a revenue increase of 10% to $1.07 billion globally and 14% increase to $703 million in the U.S. in 2022, according to PRWeek’s 2023 Agency Business Report.

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