Mastercard global study shows that post pandemic, the planet comes first

April 13, 2021 | LONDON, UK
  • New study across 24 countries show the pandemic has prompted billions to adopt more sustainable behaviors 
  • Globally, a large proportion of adults (85%) state they’re willing to take personal action to combat environmental and sustainability issues in 2021 with Brits (76%) contributing to this trend
  • Over two in five Brits (44%) see reducing their carbon footprint as more important now than pre-pandemic
  • Mastercard has integrated a carbon calculator into its network, offering banks a means to show cardholders the carbon impact of their consumption and simple ways to contribute to reforestation. 

New research on sustainability, commissioned by Mastercard, reveals a marked increase in consumer passion for the environment as a result of COVID-19 with 85% of the globe willing to take personal action to combat environmental and sustainability issues in 2021. 

Over two in five Brits (44%) are more conscious about their impact on the environment and see reducing their carbon footprint as more important now than before the pandemic. The leading reasons came down to seeing discarded PPE, not having to commute long distances and having more time over the past year to think about the planet.

Top six reasons Brits' opinions towards the environmental and sustainable issues have changed since the start of the COVID-19:


Seeing discarded PPE (e.g. face masks, gloves etc.) has made Brits more environmentally conscious


Coronavirus has demonstrated that Brits don't need to commute long distances or travel unnecessarily


Brits had more time to think about their environmental impact (e.g. reduce food waste, carbon footprint etc.)


Brits feel more connected to their local community than they did before and would like to shop locally more and support independent businesses


Brits have watched more environmental documentaries (e.g. David Attenborough's A Perfect Planet)


Increased news consumption during this time period has added to people's understanding of environmental issues


Half of Brits admitted TV and documentaries have been the most powerful medium for tackling climate change, although 31% of Gen Zs found digital activism via social media impactful.

Following their considerations of personal actions towards the environment, more than half of the nation (52%) stated that they believe companies should also behave in more sustainable and eco-friendly ways, with Gen-Z leading on this shift (56%). Overall, nearly a third of Brits (29%) will give more value to brands that act in a responsible, transparent and honest way.

As British consumers call on companies and brands to implement sustainable practices, Brits spotlighted the issue of plastic pollution in packaging and products (44%), reducing waste (37%) and reducing their carbon footprints to tackle climate change (29%) as the top three sustainability issues.

Scott Abrahams, Senior Vice President, Business Development, Mastercard UK & Ireland said: “It’s great to see such positive change in attitudes towards the environment and tackling climate change, not only in the UK but across the world. Together, we can all make a difference to reduce our carbon footprint and we’re supporting consumers, communities and our partners to adopt sustainable practices as we look past the pandemic and look forward to a brighter future.”

As part of Mastercard’s Sustainability initiatives, which includes the Priceless Planet Coalition, its long-term commitment to helping both businesses and consumers contribute to supporting the planet with the goal of restoring 100 million trees, it has also developed the Mastercard Carbon Calculator. Together with its strategic partner Doconomy, this tool is integrated across Mastercard’s global network. It allows banks to adopt and customise for consumers who are looking for more ways to spend sustainably. It enables access to insights and data about carbon impact of their consumption and enables people to easily contribute to preserving the environment.

Companies, consumers and communities must work together to make the significant changes needed to effectively address climate change," said Jorn Lambert, Mastercard Chief Digital Officer. "The Mastercard Carbon Calculator informs consumers about the carbon footprint of their purchases, so that they can make more meaningful spending decisions and contribute to forest restoration. By embedding sustainability into the fabric of Mastercard’s business, we can unlock the power of our network, reaching billions of consumers and partners to create positive change for the environment. This builds on the creations last year of the Priceless Planet Coalition which unites businesses and consumers to restore 100 million trees.” 

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 CO2 equivalents (such as trees), 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.  

“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,” said Mathias Wikström, Chief Executive Officer, Doconomy. “When others are talking of the importance of ESG, Mastercard is putting it to work at the fingertips of the consumer.” 

The Priceless Planet Coalition continues to gain momentum globally and now includes more than 50 members. This week, Mastercard also announced a new UK partner - ekko, a UK fintech turning the tide on climate change.  


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Notes to editors

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 25519 adults from UK, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, Colombia, USA, India, Greece, Netherlands, Austria, France, Turkey, Mexico, Brazil, Kenya, Poland, Russia, Spain, Portugal, UAE, Canada, Australia and Japan. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th January - 5th March 2021.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all country adults (aged 18+). 

1 Mastercard calculated the world population of 7.9 billion (source: Worldometres) with 85% admitting they’re willing to take personal action. This calculation is 6,715,000,000. 

1 Mastercard calculated the world population of 7.9 billion (source: Worldometres) with 85% admitting they’re willing to take personal action. This calculation is 6,715,000,000. 


More on Mastercard’s battle against climate change:

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 achieve net zero emissions by 2050 – building on its progress to decarbonise its own operations for many years – and is taking action to decarbonise its supply chains. 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. 

Ahead of world Earth Day on April 22, the Priceless Planet Coalition will be activating several sustainability-related campaigns to contribute to the goal of restoring 100 million trees: 

  • Recognising the importance of social media in creating awareness and advocacy for the environment among consumers, starting April 15, Mastercard will launch a campaign on both TikTok and Instagram to encourage people to plant a tree for a friend to celebrate the planet. The company will match donations when people use their Mastercard. 
  • First Hawaiian Bank is embedding sustainability rewards into its loyalty program, with additional bank partners to follow in the coming months. Cardholders can put their reward points to good use by redeeming them for planting new trees.
  • From April 22 to May 3, Mastercard cardholders in the U.S. will be able to bid on a selection of curated, Priceless experiences spanning passions from dining to golf, from celebrity encounters to the great outdoors and much more. All auction proceeds will be donated to Conservation International and benefit the Priceless Planet Coalition’s forest restoration projects. 

About Mastercard (UK)

Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.