2nd EIB climate survey (1/4)

Citizens’ perception of climate change and its impact

The European Investment Bank has launched the second edition of the EIB climate survey. The findings are particularly relevant at a time when climate is one of the top priorities in the EU’s agenda, and following the EIB’s adoption of a new, fossil-fuel free energy lending policy and a new climate roadmap.

Conducted in partnership with market research firm BVA, the survey aims to inform the broader debate on citizens’ attitudes and expectations in terms of climate action in the European Union, the United States and China.

Listening to citizens’ attitudes is key for us to make sure we address their concerns, while leaving no one behind”, Vice-President Emma Navarro

Discover below some of the key findings from the first of four releases of this worldwide EIB climate survey.

You can download the full data set of results here.

Young Europeans and climate change

The EIB climate survey reveals that environmental migration is seen as a strong reality in Europe, where 82% of respondents anticipate climate change will force people to leave their country of residence to escape extreme weather conditions. At the same time, 24% of Europeans also foresee moving to another country because of climate change. This number is significantly higher among the younger generations, where 41% are seriously considering the option of moving abroad. An important divide can also be seen between European countries: as a comparison, 33% of Austrians aged 15-29 years anticipate moving to another country, a percentage that goes up to 51% among young Spaniards.

 

Climate change seen as bigger threat in Northern Europe

Interestingly, a geographical difference exists between Southern and Northern European countries. Southern Europeans see unemployment as the biggest problem facing their respective countries: 72% of Spaniards and 69% of Italians put it among their top three challenges. Northern European countries such as Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany and Austria actually see the climate crisis as the biggest threat. This contrast in opinion between Southern and Northern European countries is also reflected in the perceived impact of climate change: people in Mediterranean countries report a higher impact on their everyday lives, with figures of 94% for Italy and 87% for Spain, while the share is 63% in Denmark and 66% in Sweden. Overall, 82% of Europeans report that climate change has an impact on their everyday lives, a perception that goes up to 98% in China but down to 76% in the United States.

 

Chinese most optimistic climate change is reversible

According to the findings, Europeans remain more sceptical than the Chinese when it comes to fighting climate change: 59% of Europeans see it as reversible, which is 21 points lower than in China (80%) but higher than in the United States (54%). When it comes to how people perceive the impact of their individual actions on fighting climate change, 69% of Europeans think their actions can make a difference, which stands halfway between China’s 72% and the United States’ 65%.

 

Climate change more feared by the Chinese than by EU or US citizens

The survey results confirm that a fear of climate change is widely shared across Europe: 47% of Europeans rank it as the biggest challenge in their lives, closely followed by access to healthcare and health services (39%) and unemployment (39%). In comparison, Americans rank climate change (39%) behind access to healthcare and health services (45%) and 73% of Chinese people think that climate change is the biggest challenge faced by society, far ahead of access to healthcare and health services (47%) and financial crisis (33%).

 

With COP25 hosted in Madrid, Spain, we took the opportunity to interview locals and hear what they think about climate change

 

Find out more about attitudes towards climate change in the following countries