Majority of Irish people say climate change should be high Government priority

There is a strong appetite for scaled-up action by the Government in response to climate change
Majority of Irish people say climate change should be high Government priority

Irish people are in almost total agreement that climate change is happening, while 85 per cent are worried about it, according to a poll commissioned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In the most comprehensive survey of Irish attitudes to the climate crisis, the findings indicate the issue features prominently in public consciousness and suggests there is a strong appetite for scaled-up action by the Government in response to it.

It is the first part of the Climate Change in the Irish Mind project undertaken by EPA with the Yale University Programme on Climate Change Communication in the US.

The poll, which was conducted by Behaviours & Attitudes last summer, had a sample size of 4,000 adults.

Some 90 per cent of people in Ireland say the country has a responsibility to act on climate change and should do what it can to reduce its own greenhouse emissions. In contrast, only 9 per cent say Ireland is too small to make a difference on climate change and should let other countries take the lead.

Other findings include:

  • Nearly all Irish people (96 per cent) think climate change is happening and is caused, at least in part, by human activities
  • More than 90 per cent of people say climate change is important to them personally; 79 per cent say it should be either a “very high” or “high” priority for the Government
  • Irish people strongly support a range of policies to address climate change, while 78 per cent also think climate action will increase jobs, economic growth and quality of life
  • Most people support spending carbon tax revenues on programmes to reduce carbon emissions and to prepare for climate impacts
  • Scientists (94 per cent) and the EPA (89 per cent) are the most trusted sources of information on climate change

EPA director general Laura Burke said the findings were definitive. “This is an important first step in a very valuable project that will help to understand how Irish people perceive the environmental challenge, and that can fundamentally change how we all communicate on the topic,” she added.

The findings, she believed, “clearly demonstrate Irish people overwhelmingly recognise the threat, feel personally affected and want to see real change”.

The results will be used to support climate change awareness and engagement campaigns, the design of national policy and climate action, she confirmed.

Minister for the Climate Eamon Ryan said the cornerstone of the national dialogue was to engage and empower everyone in society to transition towards a climate-neutral economy “in a way that is fair, just, and accessible”.

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