New research on sustainability, commissioned by Mastercard, reveals a marked increase in consumer passion for the environment as a result of COVID-19. Over two fifths of Europeans surveyed (48%) consider reducing their carbon footprint more important now than pre-pandemic. In fact, more than half of Europeans (52%) have become more conscious about how their actions can impact the environment than ever before, with Gen Z and Millennials (58%) leading the charge. This signals a growing trend toward eco-conscious spending and consumption amongst people who want to turn their purchases and rewards redemption into meaningful action for the planet.
The desire towards more conscious consumption has grown over the last decade. However, changes in attitudes and actions have increased at a rapid rate as a direct result of COVID-19. As consumers become more conscious about their own actions, almost three in five (58%) believe that companies should behave in more sustainable and eco-friendly ways since COVID-19, with Gen-Z also leading this shift (62%). Europeans also revealed reducing waste (39%), tackling the issue of plastic pollution in packaging and products (38%) and reducing air and water pollution (35%), as the top three issues they want companies and brands to focus on, in addition to dealing with the pandemic.
As part of Mastercard’s overarching Sustainability platform, it established a Priceless Planet Coalition in 2020. It is the brand’s long-term commitment to helping both businesses and consumers contribute to supporting the planet with the goal of restoring 100 million trees. In addition, it has also developed the Mastercard Carbon Calculator together with Swedish fintech Doconomy. This tool is integrated across Mastercard’s global network, and it allows banks to adopt and customize for eco-conscious consumers who are looking for more ways to be informed about their spending. It provides access to insights and data about carbon impact and enables people to easily contribute to preserving the environment.
Mark Barnett, President of Mastercard Europe, said:
“It is imperative that businesses acknowledge their role in helping the planet thrive. Not only because it is a passion point for consumers, but because most importantly it is the right thing to do. At the end of the day, this is everyone’s planet, and there is a collective responsibility to put action into place. Since COVID, environmental concerns have grown exponentially, which means our efforts must do the same. We continue to explore new and innovative ways in which we can make meaningful contributions as a business. We are also working hard to share our ambitions with a wider network to encourage others in taking these critical steps forward with us”.
The Carbon Calculator enables consumers to receive a snapshot of the carbon emissions generated by their purchases across spending categories. The calculations are powered by the independently verified Åland Index and can be further enhanced with relatable and easy-to-understand equivalents (such as the number of trees required to absorb the same amount of CO2), as well as tips about living more sustainably. Consumers also have the option to contribute to the forest restoration projects of the Priceless Planet Coalition – whether by donating or using loyalty rewards programs by their banks. Banks can seamlessly integrate the Carbon Calculator into their mobile apps through new APIs that are now available on Mastercard Developers.
Mathias Wikström, Chief Executive Officer, Doconomy:
“By engaging a whole industry in enabling individual insights as well as collective action, Mastercard has redefined the role the financial industry can play every day in tackling the climate crisis. When others are talking of the importance of ESG, Mastercard is putting it to work at the fingertips of the consumer”.
Mastercard is equipping its global network to be a positive force for the environment.
Ahead of world Earth Day on 22 April, the Priceless Planet Coalition will be activating several sustainability-related campaigns to contribute to the goal of restoring 100 million trees:
- Recognizing the importance of social media in creating awareness and advocacy for the environment among consumers, starting 15 April, Mastercard will launch a campaign on TikTok and Instagram in the U.S., U. K., Germany and the Netherlands to encourage people to plant a tree for a friend to celebrate the planet. The company will match donations when people use their Mastercard.
The Priceless Planet Coalition continues to gain momentum globally and now includes more than 50 members. For Europe, the most recent partners to join include: ekko, GLS Bank, Paybox Bank, UKRSIBBANK BNP Paribas Group and Hellenic Bank.
In addition to the carbon calculator, Mastercard offers other environmentally focused products and services, such as cards made from sustainable materials to reduce plastic waste. The company has also pledged to reach net zero emissions by 2050, building on existing commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions aligned with 1.5-degrees Celsius. Mastercard has also issued a $600 million sustainability bond and recently announced to changes to its executive compensation model to help accelerate progress around three global ESG goals: carbon neutrality, financial inclusion and gender pay parity. This is all in support the company’s goal of building a more sustainable and inclusive digital economy.