Bahrain tuned in to climate risks

BAHRAIN is the second country in the Gulf with high public awareness about mounting challenges from global warming, according a new report.

‘Are Consumers in the Gulf States Ready to Go Green?’ added that the government, organisations and civil society continued to play their part in embracing environmental sustainability initiatives.

However, consumers still face obstacles preventing them from translating their concerns into action via eco-friendly practices, indicated findings by global management consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

Among Gulf countries, the UAE showed 81 per cent awareness about the risks of climate change, followed by Bahrain (77pc), Qatar (76pc), Oman (74pc), Saudi Arabia (70pc) and Kuwait (52pc).

The study highlighted that 80pc of GCC respondents were willing to adopt more sustainable lifestyles, but Bahrain – similar to several other GCC states – recycled, reused, or recovered only around 8pc of the plastic and metal waste produced – less than the global average of 32pc.

A total of 51pc consumers in Bahrain were willing to live more sustainably, while 61pc knew how climate change can negatively impact the global environment, and around two-thirds anticipated it would impact future generations.

“Climate change concerns among Bahrain consumers have increased due to greater access to information and successful government and corporate-backed initiatives, notably Bahrain’s Economic Vision 2030,” said BCG Middle East partner Simon Birkebaek.

“If public and private sectors were to do even more to facilitate awareness initiatives, green infrastructure investments, and a wider choice of affordable eco-friendly goods and services then more people will choose to pursue sustainable lifestyles, something that is very much in keeping with the Bahrain government’s wish that businesses build on the foundations they have created,” he added.

Understanding the perceived challenges for consumers to take action is important in advancing the green agenda, said the report.

“Several challenges remain, and today, there are growing calls for more recycling and renewable energy information, as well as guidance on how to live more sustainably and reduce energy consumption,” added BCG Middle East managing director and partner Cristiano Rizzi.

“At the same time, people also want to see more investment geared towards sustainable infrastructure – particularly in recycling, renewable energy, public transportation, and eco-tourism, something the kingdom is naturally suited to offer.”

The report said that though the government had done much to encourage recycling, 36pc of consumers believe it is a cumbersome practice.

There is a strong sentiment in Bahrain – similar to in many GCC households – that equates well-known brands with quality and social status, so consumers tend to view eco-friendly alternatives as inferior.

“Profligate products are those that are perceived as expensive and offering little additional quality.

“Electric cars and eco-friendly homes fall into this category.”

This was despite the fact that the Sustainable Energy Authority was working on a study with Industry, Commerce and Tourism Ministry to soon introduce electric cars in Bahrain with dedicated charging stations.

The report said people’s reluctance to embrace electric vehicles was based around perceived high purchase prices, operating costs, and a lack of charging infrastructure – 42pc cited electric vehicles as being too expensive and 38pc said operating costs were too high.

In terms of eco-friendly tourist destinations, the perceived higher costs, long travel distances, and lack of access to luxurious amenities, entertainment and shopping were of concern to travellers with 47pc pointing to the lack of amenities as an issue.

Overall, 43pc of GCC respondents cited the lack of conveniently located recycling bins or collection sites as a major constraint.

Another 35pc cited a lack of recycling companies.

Infrastructure constraints also helped explain why only 17pc of GCC consumers use public transportation and only 20pc walk or cycle to their destinations frequently – even though 70pc of respondents agreed that it was important to reduce harmful vehicle emissions.

However, what was alarming was to find that 35pc of GCC respondents – and 49pc of 18- to 24-year-olds – said they had never heard of, or were unsure of the meaning of “carbon footprint”.





Share this page Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on Linkedin

Listen to 'Radio FCCIB' Videos & Podcast

Radio FCCIB is the new program launched by the French Chamber of Commerce & Industry in Bahrain, asking 3 questions to its members