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  • 72% of Europeans consider COVID-19 as the greatest challenge currently faced by their country. 
  • 57% say the post-pandemic economic recovery measures must take into account the climate emergency.
  • 70% of Europeans say they are in favour of stricter government measures that would impose individual behaviour changes to address the climate crisis.

The first release of the 2020-2021 EIB Climate Survey reveals European citizens’ attitudes and views on climate change in a rapidly changing world. The third EIB Climate Survey shows how the COVID-19 crisis is influencing citizens’ perception of the climate emergency. Discover the results from the first of the survey’s three releases.

People in China still rank climate change as their top priority, in contrast to citizens in the EU and in the US

The current health crisis has changed citizens’ perception of challenges their country is facing today. In 2019, nearly half of Europeans ranked climate change as the top challenge. This year, however, only 33% name climate change as one of the top three challenges. There are some differences between perceptions in Europe, the United States and China:

  • In all European countries, the COVID-19 pandemic is the greatest challenge (72%).
  • For Americans, COVID-19 is also the country’s greatest challenge (73%). Last year, they ranked access to healthcare and health services as their top challenge.
  • For Chinese people, climate change still ranks as the top challenge (61%), with the pandemic ranked closely behind (59%).

This focus on the COVID-19 pandemic is seen in all segments of the population. However, climate change remains a greater challenge for younger Europeans than for the population as a whole: among 15-19 year-olds, it is the second most important challenge (40%), cited equally with unemployment.

Europe and China calling for a green recovery

A majority of Europeans (57%) say that the economic recovery must take the climate emergency into account. They say their governments should promote low-carbon and climate-resilient growth. Only 43% say that their governments should use any means to boost the economy in the interest of quick economic growth.

A majority of Chinese citizens (73%) are also in favour of a green recovery.

49% of Americans support a green recovery, while 51% believe their government should use any means to boost the economy in the interest of quick economic growth.

A demand for stricter government measures to change people’s behaviour

2020 has been a year of strong government action, with mandatory masking, lockdowns and travel restrictions to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. 70% of Europeans, 67% of Americans and 95% of Chinese citizens say they would favour similar measures that would impose changes on individual behaviour to tackle climate change.

66% of Europeans think that the European Union is at the forefront of the fight against climate change. This is compares to 90% of Chinese citizens who believe China leads, and 49% of Americans who believe the US does.

Ambroise Fayolle, Vice-President of the EIB, stated: “2020 has been a very difficult year. It is not surprising that the COVID-19 pandemic is now the main concern among citizens. At the same time, people are calling for a green economic recovery. This is a strong signal and a call for action for concerned institutions. The EIB is more than ever committed to addressing this challenge in the years to come.”

Explore the results from the first of the survey’s three releases.

Background information

About the EIB Climate Survey

The European Investment Bank has launched the third edition of the EIB Climate Survey, a thorough assessment of how people feel about climate change. Conducted in partnership with market research firm BVA, the 3rd edition of the EIB Climate Survey aims to inform the broader debate on attitudes and expectations in terms of climate action. More than 30,000 respondents participated in the Survey between 5 October – 2 November 2020, with a representative panel for each of the 30 countries surveyed.

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. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals both in Europe and beyond. The European Investment Bank is active in around 160 countries and is the world’s largest multilateral lender for climate action projects. The EIB Group has recently adopted its Climate Bank Roadmap to deliver on its ambitious agenda to support EUR 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. Also, as part of the Roadmap, from the start of 2021, all new EIB Group operations will be aligned with the goals and principles of the Paris Agreement.

About BVA

BVA is an opinion research and consulting firm recognised as one of the most innovative market research firm 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.

Contact: Thomas Froimovici, t.fromovici@eib.org , tel.: +352 43 79 83249