10 December 2021
The vast majority of Irish people believe climate change should be a high priority for the Government, according to a new study.
An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) survey published today, the most comprehensive of its kind to date, revealed a number of findings regarding the public’s beliefs and attitudes around climate change, including 91 per cent of the population saying that climate change is an important issue to them personally.
The project, done in conjunction with the Yale University Program on Climate Change Communication, also found that there was a broad base of support for policies to address climate change, as over three-quarters of respondents believed that climate action will increase jobs, economic growth and quality of life.
The survey also found an overwhelmingly high trust of 94 per cent in scientists as a source of information on climate change and a high degree of concern about the crisis, as 85 per cent reported being worried about the issue.
9 in 10 Irish people also believe that Ireland has a responsibility to act on climate change, and must do what it can to see its greenhouse gas emissions decline.
The majorities were smaller when it came to climate-related behaviours, as just over half of respondents said they would contact Government officials regarding climate change and join a citizen’s climate campaign.
In relation to consumer trends, 45 per cent of respondents said they have avoided buying products from companies that are opposing steps to reduce the effects of climate change while 57 per cent reported buying goods or services from a company that has taken action to reduce their effects on the crisis.
The findings of the report are “definitive”, according to EPA Director General Laura Burke.
“The findings of the survey clearly demonstrate that the Irish people overwhelmingly recognise the threat, feel personally affected and want to see real change.
“It demonstrates that – as a country – we are ready for the transition to climate neutrality and resilience, people see the benefits to themselves and Ireland in general and many are already advanced on the journey,” Ms Burke said.
The results will provide “valuable insights” to Government as climate policies and initiatives are developed, according to Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan.
The report also reveals a “political imperative for climate action now”, according to Communications Manager with Friends of the Earth Deirdre Duff.
“The main political parties now have a clear mandate for climate action – there is a strong suggestion too that we’ve reached a point where delayed climate action will be punished in the polls,” she added.
The study comes the same week that the Climate Change Advisory Council issued its annual review, where the body found that there was a significant gap between climate action policy and climate action delivery.
In particular, the Council criticised the delay in implementing the 2019 Climate Action Plan, the missed 2020 emissions reduction target and the lack of a long-term emissions reduction strategy.
Ireland was required to reduce its emissions by 20 per cent by the end of last year compared to 1990 levels, but by 2018 emissions had in fact increased by almost 10 per cent when compared to the same baseline.