Flights, meat and video streaming: What people in the EU, the US and China are willing to give up to fight climate change
12 January 2021
The second release of the 2020-2021 EIB Climate Survey explores people’s attitudes and views on climate change in a rapidly changing world. The results from this release focus on how people intend to fight climate change in 2021, what they are willing to give up to tackle the climate crisis, and how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting their travel habits and intentions to fight climate change.
72% of Europeans believe their own behaviour can make a difference in tackling climate change.
27% of Americans say they are making radical lifestyle changes to fight climate change, compared to 19% of Europeans and 10% of Chinese people.
Given the choice between giving up flying, meat, new clothes, video streaming services or their car to fight climate change, 39% of Europeans and 38% of Americans say that giving up their car would be the most difficult.
75% of Americans, 71% of Chinese people and 67% of Europeans say they are currently less likely to use public transport because of health concerns.
Europeans would find it easier to give up flying to fight climate change (40%, compared to 43% in China and 38% in the United States) than to stop eating meat, buying new clothes, owning a car or using video streaming services. However, 39% of Europeans and 38% of Americans say that giving up their car would be the most difficult option.
These are some of the results from the second release of the 2020-2021 Climate Survey published today by the European Investment Bank (EIB). The EIB is the lending arm of the European Union and the world’s largest multilateral lender for climate action projects.
Overall, only 10% of Chinese people and 19% of Europeans say they are making radical lifestyle changes to fight climate change, while as many as 27% of Americans say so.
Future travel plans to be shaped both by the pandemic and climate concerns
Once travel restrictions related to COVID-19 are lifted, 37% of Chinese people, 22% of Europeans and 22% of Americans say they will avoid flying because of climate change concerns. 42% of Europeans say they would take their holidays in their own country or a nearby country to minimise carbon emissions. 29% of Europeans (compared to 29% of Chinese people and 35% of Americans) say they will resume travelling by plane as they did before the pandemic.
When asked about COVID-19 and public transport, 75% of Americans, 71% of Chinese respondents and 67% of Europeans saythey are currently less likely to use public transport because they are worried about their health.
A majority of respondents (79% of Chinese people, 67% of Americans and 58% of Europeans) say they are more concerned about catching COVID-19 than they are about the long-term impact of climate change.
A global comparison – differences between European, American and Chinese perceptions
Regardless of where respondents live, people say that it would be easiest to give up flying to fight climate change (40% for Europeans, 38% for Americans and 43% for Chinese respondents).
Health concerns are also universal: 75% of Americans, 71% of Chinese people and 67% of Europeans say they are currently less likely to use public transport because they are worried about their health due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even though most respondents say that they are more concerned about catching COVID-19 than about climate change (79% of Chinese people, 67% of Americans and 58% of Europeans), people still believe their choices and actions can contribute to the fight against climate change. 72% of Europeans believe that their own behaviour can make a difference in tackling climate change. This conviction is shared by 72% of Americans and 84% of Chinese respondents. The number of respondents answering positively to this question increased everywhere compared to 2019, with an increase of three points in the European Union, seven points in the United States and 12 points in China.
Younger respondents are considerably more likely to believe their behaviour can make a difference in fighting climate change compared to older respondents in Europe and in the United States, while this gap is not observed in China. The survey shows that in the European Union, 77% of 15-29 year-olds believe their behaviour can make a difference, compared to 64% of respondents aged 65 or older. In the United States, the figures are 75% of 15-29 year-olds compared to 56% of respondents aged 65 or older.
EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle stated: “The post-COVID-19 period will provide an opportunity to take a quantum leap in the transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy. A green recovery could help us accelerate the significant cut in greenhouse gas emissions that is needed by 2030. People around the world are conscious that their individual behaviour can make a difference. As the EU climate bank, our role at the EIB is to accelerate this green transition through the financing of clean energy, sustainable mobility solutions and innovations that will enable people to change their habits in order to fight climate change.”
Explore the results for all 30 countries surveyed here.
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 third 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 and 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 €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 will also be aligned with the goals and principles of the Paris Agreement from the start of 2021.
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.
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