Driving and flying: Europeans want to cut back

2nd annual EIB climate survey, part 3 of 3

The third release of the EIB climate survey shows that Europeans are ready to support actions that fight climate change, even if this impacts their daily lives. Respondents said they are ready to take action by taxing air travel and making food and goods that cause large amounts of carbon emissions more expensive. Survey participants also support limiting the use of plastics and more school programmes dedicated to the climate crisis. Europeans also want to penalise car use in city centres, reduce speed limits and increase support for the transition to clean energy.

EIB climate survey finds big support for banning short-distance flights and penalising car use in city centres

The third part of the survey, conducted in partnership with market research firm BVA, found that 82% of Europeans believe that communities and workers most affected by the transition to clean energy should receive financial support. In terms of transportation and climate-conscious consumption, 62% of Europeans favour a ban on short-distance flights, while 59% support a price increase for food and goods that have a large carbon footprint. 91% of Europeans back school programmes that promote climate change and waste sorting.

The purpose of this release of the EIB climate survey is to reveal how Europeans perceive their responsibilities in fighting climate change and to search for policy solutions.

Climate change is among the main concerns of European citizens. They are prepared to make personal sacrifices to fight global warming and to live in a more sustainable way, but at the same time they expect governments and companies to take action to reduce carbon emissions and improve environmental protection. We must all be part of the answer to this challenge,” Vice-President Emma Navarro

Overview

The majority of Europeans believe they need better services and infrastructure in order to tackle climate change. In some countries, however, such as Hungary, Finland, France and the Netherlands, most citizens would prefer financial aid or tax cuts, instead. Like Americans and the Chinese, Europeans prefer solutions that involve them less personally or that may have a positive impact on their wallets. These solutions include education on climate change and waste sorting, banning single-use plastics, free public transport and pedestrian-only areas in city centres.

Most Europeans also favour measures penalising the use of cars: 67% of Europeans support less space for cars in city centres and 67% support reducing speed limits. Respondents in China are even more willing to support these measures, with 90% favouring reduced space for cars in city centres and 88% backing lower speed limits. A majority of European respondents (59%) also support higher prices for food and goods that have a large carbon footprint, such as red meat, cell phones and food transported over long distances, which is 10 percentage points higher than the American average of 49%.

Improving how we travel

Citizens across the European Union, the United States and China support a broad range of policy initiatives to fight climate change. With regard to air travel, 62% of Europeans would support a ban on short-distance flights, compared to 49% of Americans and 80% of Chinese respondents.

 

In addition, a carbon tax on air travel is generally supported. However, the survey reveals significant differences in the level of backing: 93% of Chinese citizens support a carbon tax on air travel, compared to 72% of Europeans and only 60% of Americans. 84% of Europeans favour more pedestrian-only areas in city centres and 82% support a ban on high-emission vehicles in city centres.

 

Education, the carbon footprint of consumption and financial support for the clean energy transition

Respondents around the world widely favour using education to promote climate policies. 91% of Europeans, 97% of Chinese and 80% of Americans support the teaching of climate change and waste sorting in schools.

Concerning consumption, 85% of European respondents support a ban on single-use plastics such as plastic straws and cutlery, far above the 62% of those in the US who support the ban. However, only 59% of European citizens would support an increase in the price of food and goods, such as red meat and mobile phones, that have a significant carbon footprint, which is significantly lower than the Chinese average of 84%.

Furthermore, 82% of Europeans believe that communities and workers most affected by the transition to clean energy should receive financial support, compared to 68% of Americans and 93% of Chinese respondents.

Find out more about citizens’ commitment towards climate change in the following countries

78% of French respondents support a carbon tax on flights

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Most of the French support taxing flights to fight climate change: 78% of French respondents favour a carbon tax on flights, 6 percentage points above the EU average (72%). In addition, 67% say they support banning short-distance flights, 5 percentage points above the EU average of 62%. However, only 58% say they favour a progressive ban on diesel cars compared to the EU average of 65%. 81% of the French believe that communities and workers most affected by the energy transition should receive financial support.

With regard to climate-conscious consumption and plastic waste, the French generally favour an increase in the price of food and goods with a significant carbon footprint, such as red meat and mobile phones, with 60% of respondents supporting it. They also say they want to curb plastic waste: 89% favour a ban on single-use plastics, 4 percentage points higher than the EU average of 85%.

67% of Germans support a ban on short-distance flights

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Germans support various measures in order to fight climate change, particularly those that would improve “soft mobility” in the city, including free public transport and pedestrian-only areas in city centres. They are more inclined to accept restrictive measures in their daily lives, such as the prohibition of short-distance flights or the increase in prices on foods or products that have a large carbon footprint.

Germans generally favour taxing carbon-intensive transportation. This is particularly true for air travel: 71% of German respondents favour a carbon tax on flying, and 67% favour a ban on short-distance flights, which is 5 percentage points above the EU average (62%). Furthermore, 61% of Germans back an increase in the price of food and goods with a significant carbon footprint, such as red meat and mobile phones. They also support educational efforts as an effective policy initiative, with 88% in favour of schools teaching about climate change and waste sorting.

76% of Poles favour reducing the space for cars in city centres

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Overall, Poles back a variety of transportation-related measures to fight climate change. 68% of Polish respondents say they favour a progressive ban on diesel cars, compared to the EU average of 65%. In addition, 62% of Poles support banning short-distance flights, which is in line with the EU average. 71% of respondents over the age of 65 favour the ban on short-distance flights, compared to 55% of 15- to 29-year-olds.

Furthermore, 76% of Polish respondents favour reducing the amount of space dedicated to cars in city centres, which is 9 percentage points above the EU average of 67%. Poles also support free public transportation, with 94% saying they are in favour, slightly above the EU average of 91%.

However, only 49% of Poles say they support an increase in the price of food and goods with a significant carbon footprint, such as red meat and mobile phones, 10 percentage points below the EU average of 59%.

87% of Spaniards support banning high-emission vehicles in city centres

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Overall, Spaniards back a variety of measures to curb carbon-intensive modes of transportation. 70% of Spaniards say they support a progressive ban on diesel cars and 87% favour a ban on high-emission vehicles in city centres, compared to the EU average of 65% and 82%, respectively. In addition, 78% of Spaniards say they favour lower speed limits in cities, 11 percentage points higher than the European average (67%). Furthermore, 62% of Spaniards support a ban on short-distance flights.

Spaniards also widely favour educational efforts as an effective policy initiative, with 94% saying they favour school programmes on climate change and waste sorting. Across Europe, 91% of respondents would support such a policy.

Contacts

Thomas Froimovici

Press office