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The second part of the 2022-2023 European Investment Bank (EIB) Climate Survey explores people’s views on climate change in a rapidly changing world. The results from this release focus on people’s individual behaviour and the actions they are taking to combat climate change. 

  • 76% of Estonians aged 20-29 say sustainability is an important factor when job hunting (25% even consider it a priority).
  • 71% of Estonian respondents in their 20s believe personal behaviour can make a difference in tackling the climate emergency, vs. 49% of those over 30.
  • 70% of Estonians in their 20s are in favour of stricter government measures imposing changes in people’s behaviour to fight climate change, vs. 46% of those over 30.
  • Half of Estonians in their 20s (51%) would be in favour of a carbon budget system limiting non-essential consumption, vs. 30% of those over 30.
  • 62% of all Estonians say they are in favour of labelling food products to better inform consumers about their environmental impact.

These are some of the results from the latest yearly 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.

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. Economic and financial issues (financial crisis, increased cost of living and unemployment) have now become a major challenge for the country, according to 72% of Estonians (up 20 percentage points from the previous year), while 28% still see climate change and the environment as the biggest concern for the country.  

Nevertheless, most Estonians in their 20s (71%) say they are convinced that their individual behaviour can make a difference in tackling climate change. Survey participants over 30 are more divided, with only 49% saying they believe they can have a positive impact.

The vast majority of Estonians in their 20s also feel that their government has a role to play in encouraging individual behaviour to change. 70% of these respondents say they are in favour of stricter government measures imposing changes in people’s behaviour to tackle the climate emergency (versus 46% of Estonians over 30).

>@Graphic workshop/EIB

Jobseeker priorities

A growing number of people entering the workforce each year are looking at employers’ climate credentials when job hunting. Most Estonians (67%) say it is important that prospective employers prioritise sustainability. For 16% of respondents, it is even a priority. Of people aged 20 to 29 — typically those looking for their first job — more than two-thirds (76%) say that sustainability is an important factor in their choice of employer, and 25% even say it is a top priority.

>@Graphic workshop/EIB

Capping individual consumption

A slim majority of Estonians in their 20s (51%, compared to a 62% average for Europeans in the same age group) 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.) to reduce the impact of consumption on climate. At the same time, 70% of Estonians over 30 would oppose a cap on their most climate-damaging consumption (versus only 49% of Europeans over 30 on average).

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, 62% of Estonians are in favour of labelling all food products with their climate footprint (17 percentage points below the EU average of 79%).

Just under half of Estonians (49%) said they would agree to pay slightly more for food that is produced locally and more sustainably. This is a stark contrast with European respondents as a whole, of which nearly two-thirds (62%) were willing to do so.

Reducing the consumption of meat and dairy products is another efficient way to limit greenhouse gas emissions. However, less than a third of Estonians (31%) would be in favour of limiting the amount of meat and dairy products individuals can buy, versus more than half of Europeans (51%, 20 percentage points more than Estonia).

EIB Vice-President Thomas Östros remarked, “The outcome of the EIB Climate Survey shows that, despite a fierce economic and geopolitical context, many Estonians — especially the younger generation — are willing to help fight climate change at the individual level. As the EU climate bank, we welcome this commitment. It is our role to enable people to take action against the climate crisis. We do this by financing green services such as sustainable transport, renewable energy or energy-efficient buildings. In 2022, we supported green projects in Estonia with €18.5 million. We will continue to support projects and initiatives that accelerate the green transition and are looking for innovative ways to contribute to a prosperous future that leaves no one behind.”

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 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.