Optimism is the opportunity


The realities of climate change are evident with more frequent and devastating weather events impacting people all over the world, but institutions lack the trust to do what is right and necessary to slow the crisis.

Important and timely new research from the Edelman Trust Institute finds that optimism is the key to action, and optimism hinges on trust.



Climate crisis is universally recognized as climate change becomes more personal

Ninety-three percent of respondents say they believe that climate change poses a serious and imminent threat to the planet, as most respondents say the weather has gotten more extreme where they live over the past few years, and they worry climate change will make life difficult and unpleasant for them and their family.


People are losing trust in institutions to do what is right on climate change

While business is ordinarily the most trust institution in general, only 49 percent trust business to do what is right on climate change with all institutions seeing declines in trust. Not only that, but the voices inside these institutions have lost trust across the board, including CEOs (36%), journalists (42%), and climate advocates (51%). The only trusted voices on climate are those of friends, family, peers, and scientists/experts.

3 in 4 are worried about climate change and the majority are pessimistic about solutions

We are in a perilous situation. Over three quarters of our respondents are worried about climate change, and the majority are also pessimistic about solutions. Just 22% are worried, but also hopeful we can overcome climate challenges.


To build optimism, focus on outcomes

It is possible to move from the current 22% optimists to 52% optimists, which would lead to massive increases in climate-friendly behavior. Our research shows what the drivers of optimism are. People are more likely to be optimistic if they:

  1. Trust institutions on climate.
  2. Believe companies keep their climate commitments.
  3. See climate progress and news that gives me hope.
  4. Believe climate solutions will benefit me and society.
  5. Believe climate-friendly lifestyles are attractive.

Our recommendations to unlock optimism


Invest in optimism

While fear has long been the lead motivator on climate, it doesn’t unlock the greatest support on its own. Optimism powers climate action.


Lean into solutions

Trust is in decline across institutions, countries, and voices. To grow trust, deliver on practical solutions and communicate the progress.


Make expertise accessible

Scientists and peers are top climate influencers. Provide authoritative scientific information and make it accessible through credible peer voices.


Make policy personal

People want climate-friendly lifestyles but they need institutional support. Show how climate solutions can make their lives better, not more expensive.

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Watch our launch event

Watch Richard Edelman, CEO, and Alex Thompson, Global Chair of Corporate Affairs and Impact, present the findings and discuss their implications for business and society with a panel of experts.

What does this mean for your business? 

Please reach out to learn more about the Edelman Trust Barometer. 


Fieldwork conducted: September 20 – October 4, 2023.






Respondents / Country