Europeans believe climate change is the most serious global problem

Climate change in action.

A new Eurobarometer survey published on July 5 shows that European citizens believe climate change is the single most serious problem facing the world.

More than nine out of 10 people surveyed consider climate change to be a serious problem (93 per cent), with almost eight out of 10 (78 per cent) considering it to be very serious. When asked to pick out the single most serious problem facing the world, over a quarter (29 per cent) chose either climate change (18 per cent), deterioration of nature (7 per cent) or health problems due to pollution (4 per cent).

In terms of policy response, nine out of 10 Europeans (90 per cent) agree that greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced to a minimum while offsetting remaining emissions to make the EU climate-neutral by 2050. Close to nine in 10 Europeans (87 per cent) think it is important that the EU sets ambitious targets to increase renewable energy use, and the same percentage believe that it is important that the EU provides support for improving energy efficiency.

“Despite the pandemic and the economic hardship Europeans are facing, support for climate action remains high. Europeans recognize the long-term risks posed by the climate and biodiversity crises, and expect industry, governments and the European Union to take action,” said Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans.

“The numbers in this Eurobarometer survey serve as a rallying call for politicians and businesses. For the European Commission they provide added motivation to finalize the ‘Fit for 55′ legislation that we’ll present later this month to make sure we reach our climate targets,” he added.

A majority (64 per cent) of EU citizens are already taking individual climate action and consciously making sustainable choices in their daily lives. When asked who is responsible for tackling climate change, citizens underlined the need for structural reform to accompany individual action, pointing to national governments (63 per cent), business and industry (58 per cent) and the EU (57 per cent). Over eight in ten Europeans surveyed (81 per cent) agree that clean energies should receive more public financial support, even if this leads to a reduction in subsidies for fossil fuels. Three quarters of Europeans (75 per cent) believe that investment in the economic recovery should mainly target the new green economy.

There is clear acknowledgement that fighting climate change brings opportunities for EU citizens and for the European economy. Almost eight out of 10 Europeans (78 per cent) agree that taking action on climate will lead to innovation that will make European companies more competitive. Almost eight in 10 (78 per cent) agree that promoting EU expertise in clean technologies to countries outside the EU can help create new jobs in the EU. Seven in 10 Europeans (70 per cent) believe that reducing fossil fuel imports can benefit the EU economically. Over seven in 10 Europeans (74 per cent) agree that the cost of damages due to climate change are much higher than the investments needed for a green transition.

Special Eurobarometer 513 on Climate Change surveyed 26,669 citizens from different social and demographic groups across all 27 EU Member States. The survey was carried out between March 15 and April 14 2021.

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Deirdre Tynan

Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.