Environment

European public see ‘green growth’ benefits of climate action

18/04/2014

A recent survey shows that the European public recognises that fighting climate change and using energy more efficiently can boost the economy and employment. Most people also agree that reducing fossil-fuel imports from outside the EU could bring economic benefits.

The special Eurobarometer poll on climate change indicates that support for climate action is growing. Four out of five people now agree that ‘fighting climate change and using energy more efficiently can boost the economy and jobs’ – slightly up from the 78 % that said this in 2011. Furthermore, public support for this statement is above 65 % in every Member State of the EU.

Connie Hedegaard, EU Commissioner for Climate Action, said the poll confirmed that a clear majority of Europeans expect their politicians to tackle the climate challenge now. “Citizens understand that climate change did not go away while their governments were busy handling the economic crisis," she said. "It is not either growth and competitiveness or the climate. It has to be both.”

Nine in ten Europeans said they consider climate change a serious problem, and a large majority – more than two-thirds – see it as a ‘very serious’ problem.

The survey results suggest that people take both the environmental risks and the potential economic benefits into account when considering action on climate change. Some 70 % agree that reducing fossil-fuel imports could benefit the EU economically, showing that action to address one problem can have benefits in other areas too. The EU's net imports of oil and gas cost over €400 billion in 2012 – more than €1 billion a day.

" It is not either growth and competitiveness or the climate. It has to be both. "

Let’s see action!

Half of those asked said they have taken some kind of action to fight climate change in the past six months. And when prompted with a list of specific actions they might have taken over a longer timescale, only one in ten said they had done nothing. Around two-thirds had tried to reduce and recycle their waste, while just over half said they were trying to cut their use of throw-away items.

The vast majority of Europeans also support action on energy efficiency and renewable energy by their national governments. More than 90 % said it is important for their governments to provide support for improving energy efficiency by 2030, with just over half saying this is ‘very important’. Nine out of ten also say it is important for their governments to set targets to increase the use of renewables by 2030.

“This poll sends a strong signal to EU leaders to take bold climate action for a sustainable economic recovery,” European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said of the survey findings.

 

Climate action