UAE: Most young Arabs to boycott brands damaging the environment

71% of all respondents said global warming is already impacting their lives


Waheed Abbas

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Published: Thu 21 Sep 2023, 5:37 PM

Last updated: Thu 21 Sep 2023, 9:44 PM

The majority – 58 per cent – of Arab youth will boycott brands that damage the environment, according to the findings of the 15th annual Asda’a BCW Arab Youth Survey released on Thursday.

The numbers jump to 65 per cent in the Gulf region where the young people are willing to boycott companies causing damage to the environment amidst increasing awareness among the people related to global climate change problems the world is facing.

However, concern among Arab youth related to climate change is also growing as 66 per cent of them are “very worried”. This is the highest average in five years.

Sunil John, president, Mena, BCW and founder of Asda’a BCW, said it is encouraging that the region’s youth understand the implications of climate change.

“Most are also willing to support the boycott of brands damaging nature. It is important that businesses take heed of their sentiment and make genuine efforts to minimise their environmental impact by aligning their values with the aspirations of the region’s youth,” he said.

The Mena region is one of the world’s most challenging ‘climate change hotspots’, warming twice as fast as the rest of the world, and temperatures are set to increase by at least 4℃ by 2050, if greenhouse gas emissions increase at the current rate. Consequently, heatwaves are projected to be tenfold more frequent.

Only a handful of countries in the region, notably the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and Iraq have set Net Zero targets.

According to the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation report released in May, extreme weather has killed 2 million people and caused $4.3 trillion in losses to the global economy over the past 50 years. A report published Lancet Countdown and Climate Vulnerable Forum revealed that unabated climate change will cause 3.4 million deaths a year by the end of this year.

Conducted by SixthFactor Consulting, the survey covered face-to-face interviews with 3,600 people aged 18-24 in 53 cities across 18 Arab states.

Global warming impacting lives

“The Middle East is home to some of the world’s largest energy producers and proven oil and gas reserves. This has positioned the Arab world at the heart of the global climate change dialogue. With UAE preparing to welcome the world for COP28 this year, the region is once again in the global spotlight,” said Sunil John.

“However, it is less reported that the Mena region also bears the severe brunt of climate change, with heatwaves and flash floods not only affecting livelihoods but also threatening social security and driving people to migrate to newer lands,” he said.

The findings revealed that 71 per cent of all Arab respondents said global warming is already impacting their lives, 76 per cent in North Africa and 74 per cent in the Gulf states.

A majority – 87 per cent – of Arab youth believe their governments are taking positive action against climate change but more than half – 56 per cent – say their government should set transparent, accountable targets for achieving Net Zero emissions.

Around 80 per cent of youth in the Gulf said their everyday behaviour has an impact on climate change, compared to only 60 per cent in the Levant and 58 per cent in North Africa.

With the onus of addressing global warming being debated by developed and developing nations, around 42 per cent of youth in the region believe that Arab countries should be doing more than other nations to tackle climate change.


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