A new Eurobarometer survey has shown that European citizens believe climate change is the single most serious problem facing the world.
Overall, more than nine out of ten people surveyed consider climate change to be a serious problem (93 per cent), with almost eight out of ten (78 per cent) considering it to be very serious. In terms of policy response, nine out of ten Europeans (90 per cent) agree that greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced to a minimum while offsetting remaining emissions to make the EU climate-neutral by 2050. Close to nine in ten Europeans (87 per cent) think it is important that the EU sets ambitious targets to increase renewable energy use and the same percentage believe that it is important that the EU provides support for improving energy efficiency.
“Despite the pandemic and the economic hardship Europeans are facing, support for climate action remains high,” said Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans. “Europeans recognise the long-term risks posed by the climate and biodiversity crises and expect industry, governments and the European Union to take action. The numbers in this Eurobarometer survey serve as a rallying call for politicians and businesses. For the European Commission, they provide added motivation to finalise the Fit for 55 legislation that we’ll present later this month to make sure we reach our climate targets.”
CEE well below the EU average
However, these numbers are not equally distributed in all Member States. Only a few respondents from Central and Eastern European countries believe that climate change is the single most serious problem facing the world, well below the EU average.
Bulgaria ranks last, with only one in 20 respondents (5 per cent compared to an EU average of 18 per cent) considering climate change as a serious threat. Only a smaller proportion of respondents said to be personally responsible for it (21 per cent compared to the EU average of 41 per cent). In addition, close to six in ten respondents say they have not taken action to fight climate change in the past six months (59 per cent, above the EU average of 35 per cent).
Also, Hungary ranks very low, with 8 per cent of respondents considering climate change a serious problem, down two places from its position as the second most mentioned problem in 2019. Trying to reduce waste and regularly separating it for recycling is the most frequently taken action in Hungary, although the proportion of respondents taking such action is considerably lower than the EU average (63 per cent versus the EU average of 75 per cent).
Some good news come from the Czech Republic and Greece. Although in both countries respondents considering climate a serious challenge are well below the EU average, Czechs are much more likely to see lower energy consumption as an important factor when buying a new household appliance (68 per cent versus the EU average of 42 per cent) or to try to reduce their waste and regularly separate it for recycling (88 per cent versus the EU average of 75 per cent). On the other hand, respondents in Greece are much more likely to have installed solar panels in their homes (20 per cent, well above the EU average of 8 per cent). And they also agree that the cost of the damage due to climate change is much higher than the investment needed for a green transition (85 per cent, above the EU average of 74 per cent).
The best ranking within the CEE region goes to Lithuania where more than one in ten respondents (13 per cent) consider climate change to be the single most serious problem facing the world. Over nine in ten respondents (92 per cent versus the EU average of 90 per cent) agree that the EU economy should be climate-neutral by 2050. And nearly eight in ten respondents (78 per cent vs the EU average of 75 per cent) think that the money from the economic recovery plan should mainly be invested in the new green economy.