Case study: Closing the sustainability gap

China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and its demand for energy continues to grow. The Chinese Government’s green stimulus package, worth $221 billion, is designed to help the country achieve more sustainable development. But it will only succeed if the estimated 1.5 billion Chinese consumers embrace sustainability, and sustainable consumption.

In 2010, OgilvyEarth published Get Going with Green that examines consumer perceptions and the barriers to sustainable consumption in China. The study notes that China, like most countries has a ‘sustainability gap’ – many people claim to be green consumers but this isn’t reflected in their actual behaviour. It argues that the sustainability gap is an opportunity, since it demonstrates that many Chinese understand sustainability and want to change their behaviour. However, they feel powerless or lack the means to do so.

Ogilvy makes 10 suggestions for how businesses and governments can encourage the transition to sustainability from incentivising the purchase of more sustainable products and services, to offering more green choices and to recognising and reinforcing existing good behaviour.