Saturday

1st Oct 2016

Europeans worry but do little about climate change

  • Arctic ice: Europeans worry about global warming but do little beyond sorting waste for recycling (Photo: Karin Beate Nøsterud /norden.org)

An overwhelming majority of Europeans - 62 percent - consider climate change the second most serious problem facing the world today, a fresh EU poll has shown. However, they have little appetite for turning green when it comes to their lifestyle.

"There is a clear gap between what citizens say and what citizens are doing about fighting climate change," EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said on Thursday (11 September), while presenting the survey.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Although 61 percent of Europeans say they are taking some kind of action against climate change, it is limited to minor personal or financial effort such as separating waste for recycling and reducing consumption of energy, water or throw-away products.

Mr Dimas cited two main reasons for the inactivity - a lack of information about the causes and consequences of climate change and a lack of decisiveness on the side of public and private sectors.

Four in ten Europeans feel poorly informed about the subject, with the commissioner describing the level as "disappointing." They also expect governments, companies and industries to lead by example and change their behaviour.

In total, some 60 percent of people believe global warming is not an unstoppable phenomenon and can be changed.

Cypriots most concerned; Czechs least

The survey was carried out in all 27 EU states as well as in Croatia, Turkey, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and in the Turkish Cypriot community. In total, it involved 30,170 people and cost €240,000.

Only the issue of poverty (68%) scores higher than climate change (62%) in citizens' minds as to which is the most serious global problem.

"It seems that European citizens are very interested about what's happening in the world, maybe they are little less selfish than we might have imagined if they give these problems such a high level of importance," said Italian Socialist Guido Sacconi, the chair of the European Parliament temporary committee on climate change.

Broken down by countries, Cypriots (96%), Greeks (90%) and Slovenians (80%) have shown the greatest concern about global warming. Citizens of the Czech Republic (45%), Portugal (47%) and Italy (47%) are on the bottom of the same chart.

In the Czech Republic, the most visible critic of the climate change discourse is the country's own president, Vaclav Klaus. He has repeatedly questioned the general belief that climate change is man-made and the value of the tools used to combat it.

"A few years ago, more people thought that it [global warming] was not caused by human activity, now almost everybody and the majority of scientists believe it is anthropogenic," commissioner Dimas told journalists, adding: "even [US] President Bush has come to accept it."

Analysis

Renzi's EU attacks are survival strategy

Faced with a difficult referendum campaign, the Italian prime minister is playing the antiestablishment card, including verbal attacks on the EU and Germany.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFAEFA Supports a YES Vote in the Hungarian Referendum
  2. ACCAFinTech Boom Needs Strong Guidance to Navigate Regulatory Hurdles
  3. Counter BalanceWhy the Investment Plan for Europe Does not Drive the Sustainable Energy Transition
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region Seeks to Make Its Voice Heard in the World
  5. Taipei EU OfficeCountries Voice Support for Taiwan's Participation in ICAO
  6. World VisionNew Tool Measuring Government Efforts to Protect Children Released
  7. GoogleDid You Know Europe's Largest Dinosaur Gallery Is in Brussels? Check It Out Now
  8. IPHRHuman Rights in Uzbekistan After Karimov - Joint Statement
  9. CISPECloud Infrastructure Providers Unveil Data Protection Code of Conduct
  10. EFAMessages of Hope From the Basque Country and Galicia
  11. Access NowDigital Rights Heroes and Villains. See Who Protects Your Rights, Who Wants to Take Them Away
  12. EJCAppalled by Recommendation to Remove Hamas From EU Terrorism Watch List