European Climate Poll Shows 61 Percent Have Acted

BRUSSELS, Belgium, September 16, 2008 (ENS) – After poverty, climate change is the most serious problem Europe faces according to a Eurobarometer survey presented in the European Parliament on September 11.

The poll found that 61 percent of respondents have taken some personal action to cut emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. A quarter of those said they had changed their buying habits and used the car less to help the environment.

At the same time, the poll found that a majority believe that the people, governments, industry or the European Union are not doing enough about the warming climate.

The survey of over 30,000 people in 30 European countries found that 31 percent had not taken any action to change their behavior on account of the climate. Of those, almost half said they believe that government and industry should take action, while just over a third did not know what they should do.

The survey was conducted in all 27 EU member states as well as in the three candidate countries – Turkey, Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Those who have taken action said they believe it would make a difference, that they had a duty to protect the environment or were concerned about what they would leave for future generations.

Eurostar and Thalys high speed trains await
passengers at Paris Gare du Nord. (Photo
credit unknown)

Across Europe, 28 percent of respondents said they use greener transport and 27 percent buy seasonal and local products that reduce CO2 emissions.

The results were presented at a press conference in the European Parliament by Italian MEP Guido Sacconi, who chairs the parliament’s Temporary Committee on Climate Change.

“The fact that many Europeans say that they do not have enough information, in particular on the actions that citizens could take, clearly indicates that we have to think about initiatives and measures to spread this knowledge more widely, especially among the most vulnerable groups of our population,” said Sacconi. “The role of regional and local authorities in this task will be crucial.”

Sacconi noted differences in attitudes in different countries, saying he thought the responses of those polled depended on whether or not the country had experienced an ecological disaster.

He cited forest fires and droughts in Greece and Cyprus as two examples of countries where people’s ecological awareness had been raised by natural disasters.

Sweden is the country where most people have taken personal action to help reduce their C02 emissions, with 87 percent of respondents saying they have done something.

By comparison, 60 percent of people in Latvia and Lithuania said they have taken no action.

Royd Moor Wind Farm near Penistone,
South Yorkshire, England (Photo by Ian
Britton courtesy

At the press conference, Europe’s Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas pointed to the stimulating effect that green industry could have on Europe’s economy. He noted that 56 percent of those polled believe that climate change can help the economy.

“Saving energy means saving money, so there is a common logic that citizens consider it to be beneficial for economy,” Dimas said.

He went on to say that “citizens have role to play both as consumers, by choosing to buy the right products, and as voters.”

By the end of this year, Europe’s Environment Ministers meeting in the Council along with elected MEPs should reach an agreement on a package of Europe-wide legislation that will help mitigate climate change.

Dimas called on MEPs and the Council of Ministers not to “dilute” the proposed measures.

Margot Wallstrom, vice-president of the European Commission and a former environment commissioner, said, “Surveys of this kind are important components in our policy-making. It is striking to see that European citizens take the issue of climate change so seriously and it confirms our belief that continued, coherent EU action in this area is imperative.”

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