>@ Cristian Negroni /Getty Images
© Cristian Negroni /Getty Images

The first part of the 2021-2022 EIB Climate Survey explores people’s views on climate change in a rapidly changing world. The results from this release focus on citizens’ perceptions of climate change and the actions they expect their country to take to combat it. 

  • 75% of Irish people think that climate change and its consequences are the biggest challenge for humanity in the 21st century
  • 68% believe that they are more concerned about the climate emergency than their government
  • 72% feel that climate change has an impact on their everyday lives (five points higher than last year)
  • 59% think the country will fail in drastically reducing its carbon emissions by 2050, as pledged in the Paris Agreement
  • 66% are in favour of stricter government measures that impose changes on people’s behaviour (six points lower than last year)
  • 69% would welcome a tax on products and services that contribute most to global warming
  • 85% say they want to replace short-distance flights by fast, low-polluting trains in collaboration with neighbouring countries

75% of Irish people think that climate change and its consequences are the biggest challenge for humanity in the 21st century.

However, this apparent consensus hides significant gaps between different groups of the Irish population. Very diverse levels of concern and expectations on the topic of the climate can be seen among younger and older citizens as well as among men and women and across different socioeconomic categories.

These figures differ across different demographic categories, ranging, for instance, from 86% for 15-29 year-old respondents to 68% (a drop of 18 points) for respondents older than 65 who think that climate change and its consequences are the biggest challenge for humanity in the 21st century.

The vast majority of Irish people (72%) feel that climate change has an impact on their everyday lives (five points higher than last year and below the European average of 77%).

These are some of the results from the first release of the 2021-2022 Climate Survey published on October 27 by the European Investment Bank (EIB). The EIB is the lending arm of the European Union and the world’s largest multilateral lender for climate action projects.

Perception of the climate crisis: The country’s fight against climate change

68% of Irish people believe that they are more concerned about the climate emergency than their government. As a consequence, they are fairly sceptical regarding their country’s capability to undergo an ambitious green transition. Only 41% think that Ireland will succeed in drastically reducing its carbon emissions by 2050, as pledged in the Paris Agreement. The majority (59%) think that Ireland will fail to meet its reduced carbon emission targets. For people younger than 30, 44% believe Ireland will succeed, and for people older than 64, the figure falls to 34%. 66% of people over 64 believe Ireland will actually fail to meet the 2050 deadline. 56% of 15-29-year-old respondents share this scepticism.

As a consequence, the majority (66%) of Irish people are in favour of stricter government measures — similar to the ones implemented to combat the COVID-19 crisis — that would impose changes on people’s behaviour.

Meanwhile, 8% of Irish people believe that global warming is not due to human activities.

The energy debate

When asked about the source of energy their country should rely on to fight global warming, the majority of Irish people favour renewable energies (70%) to address the climate emergency (seven points above the EU average of 63%). Support for renewables in Ireland is seen strongly among people younger than 30 (74% in favour). This figure drops seven points for people over 64 (67%).

Irish people overall are slightly less supportive of nuclear energy than other Europeans (8% vs. 12%).

Finally, Irish people are slightly less likely to think that their country should rely on energy savings than other Europeans (13% vs. 17%), with the older generation more supportive of saving energy than the younger generation. Saving energy is ranked above an increased role for natural gas (8%).

Most popular solutions to fight climate change among Irish people

The majority of Irish people (69%) would support — the same as the EU average — the introduction of a tax on products and services that contribute most to global warming. Even among respondents with lower incomes, 68% would be in favour of such a tax in Ireland. They are also in favour of a 5-year minimum warranty on any electric or electronic product (90%) and replacing short-distance flights with fast, low-emission trains (85%). They also favour softer measures like strengthening education and increasing youth awareness of sustainable consumption (93%).

EIB Vice-President Christian Kettel Thomsen said: “Despite some generational and sociodemographic divides, almost three out of four people in Ireland want stricter measures and tools to fight climate change. The EIB is working closely with Ireland’s public and private sectors to facilitate this change through an increased share of renewables in the energy mix, innovative partnerships to boost energy efficiency in buildings and advice on introducing cleaner modes of transport modes in urban areas.  As the European climate bank, the role of the EIB is to finance projects focusing on clean energy, energy savings, sustainable mobility solutions and innovations that help limit the rise in temperature to 1.5 °C or less.” 

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Download the Excel spreadsheet with the raw data for all 30 countries surveyed here. Please click here to access the EIB website that presents key findings of the EIB Climate Survey IV.

About the EIB Climate Survey

The European Investment Bank has launched the fourth edition of the EIB Climate Survey, a thorough assessment of how people feel about climate change. Conducted in partnership with market research firm BVA, the fourth edition of the EIB Climate Survey aims to inform the broader debate on attitudes and expectations in terms of climate action. More than 30 000 respondents participated in the survey between 26 August and 22 September 2021, with a representative panel for each of the 30 countries polled.

About the European Investment Bank

The European Investment Bank is active in around 160 countries and is one of the world’s largest multilateral lenders for climate action projects. The EIB Group has recently adopted its 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 also been aligned with the goals and principles of the Paris Agreement since the start of 2021.

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.