Environment

Strong support for green policies

15/10/2014

More than 95% of Europeans say that protecting the environment is important to them.
Green sectors of the economy continue to grow despite the economic crisis – showing that protecting the environment and maintaining competitiveness goes hand in hand. A new Eurobarometer survey confirms the overwhelming public support for environmental protection – with just 5% saying it was not important.

People are particularly concerned about air and water pollution, the amount of waste and the health impact of chemicals used in their everyday life.

The new survey, ‘Attitudes of European citizens towards the environment’, found that three-quarters of EU citizens think environmental issues have a similar impact on their quality of life as the economy. In particular, more than half of the population worry about air and water pollution, with waste and depletion of natural resources also ranking as top concerns.

An increasing number – now almost three in five – believe that environmental factors should be as important in measuring progress as economic criteria such as GDP. The same number also think that public spending decisions by their national authorities should favour environmental considerations over cost.

Pitching in for the environment

The survey – the first of its kind since 2011 on attitudes towards the environment – found that 85% of Europeans believe they can play a role in protecting the environment. Three-quarters of the public are now ready to buy greener products even if they cost more – an increase over the last three years. And Europeans are being more sustainable in their everyday activities, such as sorting waste for recycling (72%), or cutting their energy (52%) and water (37%) consumption.

“People are particularly concerned about air and water pollution, the amount of waste and the health impact of chemicals used in their everyday life,” said European Commissioner for the Environment, Janez Potočnik, “and they feel that more must be done by everyone to protect the environment.”

Better environment, better economy

The survey interviewed almost 28 000 EU citizens across all 28 Member States in April and May of this year, finding that three-quarters of Europeans think environmental protection and resource efficiency is good for growth and the economy – with a majority feeling that more can be done by citizens, national governments and industry. More than 90% agree that polluters should pay for the damage they cause.

In particular, the role of the EU receives strong support – with over half of Europeans wanting the Union to do more. Three-quarters of citizens see the need for European legislation to protect the environment in their country and agree that the EU should be able to check that environmental laws are applied correctly.

Meanwhile, six out of ten think that environmental decisions should be taken jointly at the EU level, and 84% want more EU funding to support environmentally friendly actions.

“It is good to see such solid and widespread support for the protection of the environment, even in difficult times,” said Commissioner Potočnik.

 

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