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How has Romanians’ perspective on climate change shifted?

Young Romanians, with ages ranging from 15 to 24 years old are more aware of the impact of climate change and have a more pessimistic perspective than other generations who rate their optimism between 50 per cent (older than 54) and 52 per cent (25-54 years old). This is the main finding of a study entitled Romanian perspective on the impact brought by climate change, released by Social Innovation Solutions (SIS), an organisation active in sustainability, social impact and innovation.

When asked which frame of mind they wish would be prevalent amongst Romanians in 2035, 79 per cent of the research participants prioritised environmentally friendly practices, marking an increase from the 2021 study (64 per cent).

“We are living through a historical time when crises never seem to stop coming,” declared Ciprian Stănescu, President and CEO of Social Innovations Solutions. “Starting with the pandemic, war and energy shortages and ending with the most complicated crisis of today’s and tomorrow’s generations: climate change.”

He explained that the second edition of the SIS study on the Romanian perspective on this crisis shows us that the Romanian people, from urban and rural areas, understand the gravity and urgency of finding solutions.

“We are happy to see that the most important mindset of the future is being environmentally friendly, which alongside other results consolidates our belief that we can create a momentum of solutions,” he continued.

The study is the first on the Climate Change Summit agenda, the most important event throughout Eastern and Central Europe dedicated to solutions for combatting climate change, that will take place on 4-5 October at the Odeon Theater, in Bucharest, at the initiative and with support from BRD Groupe Société Générale.

“We have yet another proof of the younger generations’ interest towards climate change and its impacts on the environment and their future and towards the transition to a responsible economy, better adapted to the needs of the people and the planet,” said Flavia Popa, Secretary General, BRD Groupe Société Générale. “The research outcomes also show a greater need for stability and predictability. This is a natural consequence of the hurdles we have all faced these past few years. There are numerous challenges for which we are determined to find sustainable solutions within the Climate Change Summit, solutions that we will bring to life together.”

Infographic courtesy of Social Innovations Solutions.

Indeed, when it comes to solutions, more than half of the study’s respondents believe that by 2035 there will be ways to slow down climate change, a stark contrast to the 11 per cent of the subjects in 2021 who were convinced it won’t come to it. Meanwhile, a third of the participants are distrustful.

The negative impact on agriculture and air pollution are perceived as the worst effects of climate change, followed by rising temperatures, desertification and floods and only then loss of biodiversity, wildfires and rising sea levels.

Significant gaps can be observed between women’s and men’s perceptions, with women assigning 6-10 per cent more importance to each consequence of climate change compared to men. A similar contrast can be seen between rural and urban areas, the latter assigning 2-8 per cent more importance to the 8 individual climate change impacts.

When asked about the impact numerous activities have on the environment, waste has been identified as the top answer, followed by product packaging methods. The textile industry has been perceived as the least dangerous to the environment.

Almost half of the respondents consider that the difficulty in reducing the effects of climate change is caused by the lack of strict enough policies which would be effective in changing people’s behaviour. A third of the respondents pinpoint resistance to change as the reason when it comes to consumer behaviour. Furthermore, according to the study, 63 per cent of Romanians believe they are more involved in combatting climate change than the government or local authorities. One-third of respondents named the absence of infrastructure as the top reason for the lack of selective waste management. The other cause, invoked by the same number of respondents, is people not knowing how to properly sort waste.

Although 51 per cent of the people interviewed had no idea that Romania, according to the Paris agreement, has promised to cut down on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050, they are willing to make sacrifices in order to protect the environment: without any significant gaps between groups in terms of gender, habitat space or age, the vast majority of Romanians (70 per cent) declare they support additional taxation of polluting products.

Renewable energy is mentioned by 75 per cent of the subjects when asked which form of energy should be prevalent in Romania, by far favoured over any other potential energy source. Closely related to this mindset, the most invoked solution for reducing the effects of climate change has been increasing the renewable energy sources ratio, followed at a significant distance by lowering GHG emissions produced by cars and green investing in the private sector, both of which were named by half of the respondents.

Eco-friendly attitudes are the most popular answer among Romanians when asked what measures companies should adopt, followed by fair pay as an incentive for qualified personnel and health benefits, which are preferred especially by young Millennials, aged 25-34.

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