Four out of five people in the European Union recognise that fighting climate change and using energy more efficiently can boost the economy and employment, according to a special Eurobarometer opinion poll on climate change published today.
Several countries which suffered most in the economic and financial crisis are among the countries where recognition of the economic benefits of climate action and energy efficiency is highest. In no Member State did fewer than 65% of respondents agree.
The survey also found that seven in ten citizens agree that reducing fossil fuel imports from outside the EU could bring economic benefits and 90% of respondents said it was important for Governments to commit to national 2030 targets for the expansion of renewable energy.
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said: "There is not a choice to make between good economics and climate protection: cost-effective climate action is indeed good economics. I am very encouraged that European citizens recognise that too.
“This poll sends a strong signal to EU leaders to take bold climate action for a sustainable economic recovery. And it is an encouragement also for us in the Commission to continue fighting for ambitious climate action in Europe."
Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, added: ''The poll confirms that a clear majority of Europeans expect their politicians to tackle the climate challenge now.
“The citizens understand that climate change did not go away while their governments were busy handling the economic crisis. It is not either growth and competitiveness or the climate. It is both, it has to be both.
“I hope that EU leaders will listen and act accordingly at the European Council later this month when they will discuss our 2030 climate and energy proposals''
Key results of the survey are as follows:
* 80% of respondents agree that fighting climate change and using energy more efficiently can boost the economy and jobs, with 31% agreeing totally and 49% tending to agree. People were most likely to agree totally in Spain (52%), Sweden (50%), Malta (44%), Ireland and Cyprus (43%) and Greece (42%). The lowest share of respondents either agreeing totally or tending to agree was 65% in Estonia.
* Nine in ten Europeans consider climate change a serious problem. A large majority - 69% - believe it a 'very serious' problem and 21% a 'fairly serious' problem. Only 9% do not consider it a serious problem. On a scale of 1 (least) to 10 (most), the seriousness of climate change was ranked at 7.3. This compares with scores of 7.4 in 2011 and 7.1 in 2009.
* Climate change is considered a very serious problem facing the world after poverty and the economic situation. In 2011 climate change had been in second place, after poverty, hunger and water but ahead of the economy. Today half (50%) of the European public sees climate change as being among the four most serious problems. Respondents in Sweden (39%), Denmark (30%) and Malta (30%) are most likely to consider climate the single most serious global problem today.
* 70% of Europeans agree that reducing fossil fuel imports could benefit the EU economically, with 26% agreeing totally and 44% tending to agree. Respondents were most likely to agree totally in Spain (45%), Austria (40%), Cyprus (38%), Ireland (37%), Portugal (34%) and Malta (34%).
* The vast majority of Europeans support national action on energy efficiency and renewable energy. 92% of respondents think it is important for their governments to provide support for improving energy efficiency by 2030, with just over half (51%) saying this is 'very important'. For renewable energy, 90% find it important for their government to set targets to increase use of renewables by 2030, with 49% considering this 'very important'.
* 50% of Europeans say they have taken some kind of action to fight climate change in the past six months, slightly down from 53% in 2011. However, when prompted with a list of specific actions they might have taken, and with no timescale specified, the proportion rises to 89%, up from 85% in 2011. The most common actions are reducing and recycling waste (69%) and trying to cut use of disposable items (51%).