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The fight against climate change requires collective action — from governments, institutions, businesses and individuals. A good understanding of the climate challenge is essential for people to make informed choices. To assess the public’s understanding of climate change in Spain, the sixth edition of the EIB Climate Survey focuses on people’s knowledge of climate change in three key areas: definitions and causes, consequences, and solutions. Participants answered 12 questions and were ranked on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 indicating the highest level of knowledge. With over 30 000 respondents across 35 countries, including the EU Member States, the United Kingdom, the United States, China, Japan, India and Canada, the EIB Climate Survey provides valuable insights into people’s overall understanding of climate change.

Key findings

  • Scores: Spanish respondents scored in line with the EU average of 6.37/10 in a knowledge test on the causes and consequences of climate change and solutions to address it.
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  • Generational differences:  Spanish respondents over 30 displayed greater knowledge of the causes and consequences of climate change compared to younger generations.
  • Overall knowledge gaps: While Spanish respondents demonstrated an understanding of the causes and consequences of climate change, their knowledge about solutions lags behind. This is in line with findings across Europe. 62% of Spanish respondents did not know that better insulating buildings can help combat climate change.

Generational divide 

Climate change knowledge varies by age.  Spanish respondents over 30 scored higher overall (6.45/10) than those under 30 (5.91/10).

77% of respondents over 30 correctly defined climate change as a long-term shift in global climate patterns, compared to 63% of the younger group. When it comes to recognising sea level rise as a consequence of climate change, 77% of those over 30 understand this, versus 68% of those under 30.

Additionally, 76% of respondents over 30 recognise the importance of recycling products, compared to 61% of younger respondents. There is also a notable disparity in knowledge about the benefits of insulating buildings to combat climate change, with 41% of over 30s being aware of this, compared to only 24% of under 30s. Finally, 29% of those over 30 understand the climate benefits of reducing speed limits on roads, compared to just 20% of their younger counterparts.

Definitions and causes of climate change

Knowledge of the definition and causes of climate change among Spanish respondents is in line with the EU average (7.18/10 compared to 7.21/10).

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  • When it came to defining climate change, about three-quarters (74%, 3 percentage points above the EU average) of Spanish respondents selected the correct definition (“A long-term shift in global climate patterns”), while 7% believe that it is a hoax. 
  • Nearly the same proportion (71%) are also aware that the main causes of climate change are human activities such as deforestation, agriculture, industry and transport. Over a quarter of respondents (29%) believe otherwise (17% thinking it is caused by extreme natural phenomena, such as volcanic eruptions and heatwaves, and 12% believing that climate change is caused by the ozone hole).
  • Most Spanish respondents (71%) correctly identified the United States, China and India as the top greenhouse gases emitters worldwide.

Consequences of climate change

When asked about the consequences of climate change, Spaniards scored 7.90/10, well above the EU average of 7.65/10.

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  • 86% know that it has a negative impact on human health (for example, it can lead to an increase in air pollutants such as ground-level ozone and particulate matter).
  • 85% also correctly said that climate change is worsening world hunger by affecting crop yields due to extreme weather.
  • Sea level rise is recognised by 75%, but misconceptions persist among over a quarter (25%) of respondents: 12% believe that the global sea level is falling, and 13% said that climate change has no impact on the sea level.
  • Over two-thirds (70%) are aware that climate change fuels global migration due to forced displacement.

Solutions to climate change

Spaniards’ awareness of solutions to climate change (score: 3.97/10; EU average: 4.25/10) indicates that they have less knowledge on solutions than on the other two areas (causes and consequences). This reflects a broader trend across the European Union, with most countries receiving low scores in this area.

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  • 69% (4 percentage points above the EU average) correctly said that using public transport instead of an individual car is a step in the right direction.
  • Only a minority (38%) are aware that better insulating buildings or that buying new clothes less frequently (37%) can help as well.
  • Most Spaniards are unaware of the significant CO2 emissions related to digital usage, with only 6% knowing that watching fewer videos online can help mitigate climate change.
  • Only a minority (41%) correctly defined an individual’s carbon footprint as “the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions emitted by a person in a year,” in line with the results from most other countries in Europe.

The European Investment Bank plays a key role in financing solutions for climate change and in raising awareness of this critical issue. 
As the EU's financing arm, the EIB is investing in major projects in Spain that are supporting the country's green transition.  Recent examples include investments in sustainable transport such as loans to renew Renfe’s high-speed trains or to finance the purchase of new trains for the Madrid metro system, which improves public transport and cuts dependence on private cars. The EIB is also helping to make Spain the country of renewable energies by financing solar power plants and other sources of green energy across the country that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and that, in 2023 alone, generated electricity to power 3.8 million homes. Other recent climate action projects include financing the deployment of more than 1.800 ultra-fast electric vehicles charging stations or partnerships with commercial banks to increase the country green mortgages offer to renovate and build residential housing according to sustainable criteria.

The European Investment Bank also supports educational and academic climate programmes, such as the European Chair for Sustainable Development and Climate Transition at Sciences-Po, Paris. These programmes equip younger generations with the knowledge to address climate change. The EIB's educational work is an investment in the human capital essential to long-term environmental sustainability.

EIB President Nadia Calviño said:

“Climate change is the defining challenge of our generation. As the financial arm of the European Union, the EIB Group is committed to addressing this issue, contributing to consolidate Spain as the country of renewables and working with public institutions, cities, the private sector and civil society to drive forward the solutions and opportunities of the green transition.”

 Background information

Data and methodology

The survey methodology, questionnaire and full dataset can be downloaded here.

About the European Investment Bank

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union owned by its Member States. It is active in more than 160 countries and makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals. You can find more information about the EIB and climate education here.

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