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  • 73% of respondents in the UK under 30 say the climate impact of prospective employers is an important factor when job hunting, and 19% say it is even a top priority.
  • 54% of all respondents in the UK would be in favour of a carbon budget system to set a cap on the most climate-damaging consumption (64% of people under 30).
  • 58% say they would pay more for climate-friendly food.
  • 77% are in favour of labelling all food to help limit the impact on climate and the environment.
  • 66% are in favour of stricter government measures to impose a change in personal behaviour (74% of people under 30).

These are some of the results from the latest yearly European Investment Bank (EIB) Climate Survey, conducted in August 2022 and published today. The EIB is the lending arm of the European Union and the world’s largest multilateral lender for climate action projects.

This survey release explores people’s views on climate change in a rapidly changing world, covering the EU27 as well as three other top CO2 emitters: the United States, China and the United Kingdom. The results focus on people’s individual behaviour and the actions they are taking to combat climate change.

Individual behaviour and stricter government measures

The war in Ukraine and its consequences, including rising energy prices and inflation, have dramatically increased concerns about declining purchasing power in the United Kingdom. However, climate change and environmental degradation remain among the country’s top three challenges, according to respondents, behind the increased cost of living and the financial crisis. Moreover, two-thirds of respondents in the UK (66%) are convinced that their own behaviour could make a difference in addressing the climate emergency (compared to 75% in Germany, 69% in the Netherlands and 63% in France).

For many, the government has a role to play in encouraging individual behavioural change. A majority of respondents in the UK (66%) are in favour of stricter government measures imposing a change in people’s behaviour to tackle climate change (74% of respondents under 30 would welcome such measures).  

Jobseeker priorities

A growing number of people entering the workforce each year are looking at employers’ climate credentials when job hunting. Most respondents in the UK (61%) say it is important that prospective employers prioritise sustainability. For 15% of respondents, it is even a top priority.

Of people aged 20 to 29 — typically those looking for their first or second job — more than two-thirds (73%) say that sustainability is an important factor in their choice of employer, and 19% say it is a top priority.

Capping individual consumption

Over half of respondents in the UK (54%) say they would be in favour of a carbon budget system that would allocate each individual a fixed number of yearly credits to be spent on items with a big carbon footprint (non-essential goods, flights, meat, etc.). This opinion is shared by French participants at nearly the same rate (57%), while only 44% of Dutch participants would be in favour. In contrast, 64% of Italian respondents say they would welcome such a system.

It is noteworthy that a majority of respondents in the UK favour this measure regardless of income (58% of lower-income, 53% of middle-income, and over 55% of higher-income respondents).

Food labelling and pricing

Food production accounts for a significant share of greenhouse gas emissions. To help people make more sustainable choices when grocery shopping, 77% of respondents in the UK are in favour of labelling all food products with their climate footprint. This is 6 percentage points below the rate in France (83%) but close to the rate in Germany (80%).

In addition, 58% of respondents in the UK say they would be willing to pay slightly more for food that is produced locally and more sustainably (similar to French and German respondents, with 60% and 61%, respectively). This willingness to pay more for food spans all income groups (ranging from 55% of lower-income to 64% of higher-income respondents).

Reducing the consumption of meat and dairy products would be another efficient way to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Just half of respondents in the UK (50%) would be in favour of limiting the amount of meat and dairy products that people can buy (7 percentage points below French people, with 57%, and very close to Germans, with 49%).

While this figure spans all income groups, the generation gap is significant, with 67% of people under 30 in favour of capping individual consumption of meat and dairy products, as opposed to only 33% of those over 65 in favour of such a measure.

In the words of Nancy Saich, chief climate change expert at the European Investment Bank, “The outcome of the EIB Climate Survey shows that respondents in the UK, just like EU citizens, are willing to help fight climate change at the individual level and are expecting action from their governments. As the EU climate bank, we welcome this commitment. It complements our role of financing green services such as low-carbon transport, renewable energy and energy-efficient buildings around the world, many of which also help create new jobs.”

Background information

About the EIB Climate Survey

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has now performed the fifth annual EIB Climate Survey, a thorough assessment of how people feel about climate change. Conducted in partnership with the market research firm BVA, the fifth edition of the EIB Climate Survey aims to inform the broader debate on attitudes and expectations in terms of climate action. More than 28 000 respondents participated in the survey in August 2022, with a representative panel of people aged 15 and above for each of the 30 countries polled.

About the European Investment Bank

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union and is owned by the EU Member States. The EIB Group has adopted a Climate Bank Roadmap to deliver on its ambitious agenda to support €1 trillion of climate action and environmental sustainability investments in the decade to 2030, and to deliver more than 50% of EIB finance for climate action and environmental sustainability by 2025. As part of the roadmap, all new EIB Group operations have been aligned with the goals and principles of the Paris Agreement since the start of 2021.

EIB Global is the EIB Group’s new specialised arm devoted to increasing the impact of international partnerships and development finance. EIB Global is designed to foster strong, focused partnerships within Team Europe, alongside fellow development finance institutions and civil society. EIB Global brings the Group closer to local people, companies and institutions through our offices around the world.

About BVA

BVA is an opinion research and consulting firm recognised as one of the most innovative market research firms in its sector. Specialised in behavioural marketing, BVA combines data science and social science to make data inspiring and bring it to life. BVA is also a member of the Worldwide Independent Network of Market Research (WIN), a global network of some of the world’s leading market research and survey players, with over 40 members.