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    EU citizens see climate change as problem #1: survey


But the costs of solving the problem are yet to be determined.

by: William Powell

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EU citizens see climate change as problem #1: survey

According to a survey published July 6, European citizens believe climate change is the single most serious problem facing the world. More than nine out of ten people surveyed consider climate change to be a serious problem (93%), with almost eight out of ten (78%) considering it to be very serious, the European Commission  (EC) said. 

When asked to pick out the single most serious problem facing the world, over a quarter (29%) chose either climate change (18%), deterioration of nature (7%) or health problems due to pollution (4%). Three quarters of Europeans believe that investment in the economic recovery should mainly target the new green economy.

While the figures are high, so far the chickens have not come home to roost: the high carbon price this year is only a fraction of what it will need to be to take account of the materials needed to decarbonise industry and the energy sector. This will need to be paid for at some point, although quite how much is unknown, as is the technology needed. 

But commenting on the results, executive vice-president for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans said the numbers in the survey serve as a "rallying call for politicians and businesses. For the EC 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.”

In terms of policy response, nine out of ten Europeans (90%) 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%) 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.

A majority (64%) of EU citizens are already taking individual climate action and consciously making sustainable choices in their daily lives. When asked who is responsible for tackling climate change, citizens underlined the need for structural reform to accompany individual action, pointing to national governments (63%), business and industry (58%) and the EU (57%). Over eight in ten Europeans surveyed (81%) agree that clean energies should receive more public financial support, even if this leads to a reduction in subsidies for fossil fuels. 

There is clear acknowledgement that fighting climate change brings opportunities for EU citizens and for the European economy. Almost eight out of ten Europeans (78%) agree that taking action on climate will lead to innovation that will make European companies more competitive. Almost eight in ten (78%) agree that promoting EU expertise in clean technologies to countries outside the EU can help create new jobs in the EU. Seven in ten Europeans (70%) believe that reducing fossil fuel imports can benefit the EU economically. Over seven in ten Europeans (74%) agree that the cost of damages due to climate change are much higher than the investments needed for a green transition.

The survey asked 26,669 citizens from different social and demographic groups across all the EU between March 15 and April 14 this year. The survey was conducted by Eurobarometer which regularly traces public opinion trends to help the preparation of policy, decision-making, and the evaluation of the EC's work.