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    What are you ready to give up to fight climate change?

    2020-2021 EIB Climate Survey, part 2 of 3

    The second release of the 2020-2021 EIB climate survey focuses 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 affects their travel habits and intentions to fight climate change.

    The survey finds that if given the choice to give up flying, meat1, new clothes2, video streaming services, or a car to fight climate change, 40% of Europeans would find it easiest to give up flying.

    Individual choices and actions can make a difference

    The second part of the survey, conducted in partnership with market research firm BVA, finds that although most respondents are more worried about COVID-19 than climate change, they still believe their choices and actions can contribute to the fight against climate change: 72% of Europeans and Americans, and 84% of Chinese people believe that their own behaviour can make a difference in tackling climate change.

    The post COVID-19 period will provide an opportunity to take a quantum leap in the fight against climate change. A green recovery could help us accelerate the significant cut in greenhouse gas emissions that is needed by 2030. Citizens 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 citizens to change their habits in order to fight climate change.
    Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle

    Flights, meat and video streaming: what people are ready to give up

    Regardless of where respondents live, people say that it would be easiest to give up flying to fight climate change (40% for Europeans, 38% Americans and 43% for Chinese respondents). This figure is even higher in Poland (46%), the Czech Republic (48%), Hungary (48%), Slovakia (48%) and Croatia (51%).

    18% of Europeans say giving up video streaming would be the easiest option, 16% say that giving up meat would be the easiest, 15% say that giving up new clothes would be the easiest option while 11% say that giving up their car would be the easiest choice to make to fight climate change. In Europe, women (20%) are more likely to say that giving up meat would be the easiest option, compared to men (10%).

    However, when presented with the opposite question, 39% of Europeans and 38% of Americans say that giving up their car would be the most difficult option. People living in rural areas (51%) say that giving up their car would be the hardest choice, along with people in Italy (46%), Slovenia (46%), Malta (49%) and Luxembourg (52%).

    Pandemic and climate concerns affecting future travel plans

    Health concerns are also transversal: when asked about COVID-19 and public transport, 75% of Americans, 71% of Chinese people and 67% of Europeans say they are less likely to use public transport because they are worried about their health due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This figure is particularly high in Italy (77%), Romania (78%), Portugal (80%) and Malta (83%).

     

    However, 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 European citizens 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 citizens and 35% of Americans) say they will resume travelling by plane as they did before the pandemic.

    Can individual behaviours have an impact in fighting climate change?

    Most respondents in China, the US and Europe say that they are more concerned about catching COVID-19 than about climate change.

     

    But people still believe their choices and actions can contribute to the fight against climate change. 72% of European citizens believe that their own behaviour can make a difference in tackling climate change. This conviction is shared by 72% of American and 84% of Chinese respondents. Compared to 2019, the number of people answering positively to this question increased everywhere, with an increase of three points in the EU, seven points in the US 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 US, a gap that is not observed in China. The survey shows that in the EU, 77% of 15-29 year-olds believe their behaviour can make a difference compared to 64% of respondents aged 65 years or older. In the US, these figures are 75% and 56% respectively.

    Explore results from the following countries

    40% of French respondents say it would be easiest to give up flying to tackle the climate crisis

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    French people would find it easier to give up flying than to stop eating meat, buying new clothes, owning a car or using video streaming services. 40% say that giving up flying would be the easiest, whereas 41% say that giving up their car would be the most difficult option.

    However, it is unclear to what extent French people are really willing to do their part to avert a climate catastrophe. Overall, only 12% of French respondents say they are making radical lifestyle changes to fight climate change. This is seven points lower than the European average (19%). Parents of children under 18 (17%) and urban dwellers (17%) are particularly represented in this group.

    Once travel restrictions related to COVID-19 are lifted, 32% say they will avoid flying because of climate change concerns and 42% say they would take their holidays in France or a nearby country to minimise carbon emissions. 24% of French people say they will resume travelling by plane as they did before the pandemic.

    39% of Germans say it would be easiest to give up flying to tackle the climate crisis

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    Germans would find it easier to give up flying than to stop using video streaming services, buying new clothes, eating meat or owning a car. 39% say that giving up flying would be the easiest, whereas 38% say that giving up their car would be the most difficult option.

    Only 15% of German respondents say they are making radical lifestyle changes to fight climate change. This is four points lower than the European average (19%). 15-29 year-olds (24%) and people that feel that climate change has a strong impact on their everyday lives (39%) are particularly represented in this group.

    Once travel restrictions related to COVID-19 are lifted, 19% say they will avoid flying because of climate change concerns and 38% say they would take their holidays in Germany or a nearby country to minimise carbon emissions. 31% of Germans say they will resume travelling by plane as they did before the pandemic.

    38% of Italians say it would be easiest to give up flying to tackle the climate crisis

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    Italian people would find it easier to give up flying than to stop eating meat, buying new clothes, owning a car or using video streaming services. 38% say that giving up flying would be the easiest, whereas 46% say that giving up their car would be the most difficult option.

    Overall, 34% of Italians say they are making radical lifestyle changes to fight climate change. This is fifteen points above the European average (19%). Parents of children under 18 (39%) and urban dwellers (35%) are particularly represented in this group.

    Once travel restrictions related to COVID-19 are lifted, 33% say they will avoid flying because of climate change concerns and 43% say they would take their holidays in Italy or a nearby country to minimise carbon emissions. Only 12% of Italian people say they will resume travelling by plane as they did before the pandemic.

    42% of Dutch people say it would be easiest to give up flying to tackle the climate crisis

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    Dutch people would find it easier to give up on flying than to stop eating meat, buying new clothes, owning a car or using video streaming services. 42% state that giving up flying would be the easiest, while 40% consider that giving up their car would be the most difficult option.

    Overall, only 9% of Dutch people say they are making radical lifestyle changes to reduce their contribution to climate change, which is ten points lower than the European average (19%). 15-29 year-olds (77%) are the most represented group when it comes to make efforts to tackle climate change.

    Once travel restrictions related to COVID-19 are lifted, 22% say they will avoid flying because of climate change concerns and 30% say they would take their holidays in the Netherlands or a nearby country to minimise carbon emissions. 36% of Dutch respondents say they will resume travelling by plane as they did before the pandemic, which is five points higher than the European average.

    46% of Poles say it would be easiest to give up flying to tackle the climate crisis

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    Polish people would find it easier to give up flying than to stop eating meat, buying new clothes, owning a car or using video streaming services. 46% say that giving up flying would be the easiest, whereas 41% consider that giving up their car would be the most difficult option. Giving up eating meat would be the second most difficult (29%).

    Polish citizens are at the forefront in the fight against climate change as 75% believe that is has an impact on their everyday lives and that their individual actions can make a difference. On top of that, 26% of respondents, largely composed of women, parents and 50-64 year-olds, state that they are making radical lifestyle changes to reduce their contribution to climate change. This is seven points higher than the European average (19%).

    Once travel restrictions related to COVID-19 are lifted, 48% of Poles say they will avoid flying because of climate change concerns and 53% say they would take their holidays in Poland or a nearby country to minimise carbon emissions. 19% of Polish people think they will resume travelling by plane as they did before the pandemic.

    42% of Spaniards say it would be easiest to give up flying to tackle the climate crisis

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    Spanish people would find it easier to give up flying than to stop eating meat, buying new clothes, owning a car or using video streaming services. 42% say that giving up flying would be the easiest, whereas 33% say that giving up their car would be the most difficult option.

    Overall, 24% of Spanish respondents say they are making radical lifestyle changes to fight climate change. This is five points higher than the European average (19%). Parents of children under 18 (27%) and inhabitants of the Extremadura region (35%) are particularly represented in this group.

    Once travel restrictions related to COVID-19 are lifted, 35% say they will avoid flying because of climate change concerns and 46% say they would take their holidays in Spain or a nearby country to minimise carbon emissions. 34% of Spanish people say they will resume travelling by plane as they did before the pandemic.

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    1Meat production worldwide generates as much greenhouse gas emissions as all cars and trucks combined. Millions of square kilometres of forests – which play a key role as “carbon sinks” – have also been cut for grazing pastures. (Schiermeier Q. Eat less meat: UN climate-change report calls for change to human diet. Nature. 2019 Aug;572(7769):291-292. doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-019-02409-7)

    2Textile production is one of the most polluting industries. It generates more CO2 equivalent emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. A large proportion of clothing manufacturing occurs in China and India, where production mostly relies on coal-fuelled power plants. (The price of fast fashion. Nature Clim Change 8, 1 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-017-0058-9)