Many Europeans want climate action but not if it overly affects their lifestyle. A YouGov survey in seven countries tested backing for government and individual action on the climate crisis.
A YouGov survey across seven European countries suggests many citizens are concerned by the climate crisis. So much so, they would be willing to take personal steps to combat it. In addition, they would back government policies to combat, so long as the measure does not change their lifestyle too drastically.
The survey tested backing for state-level climate action, such as banning single-use plastics and scrapping fossil-fuel cars. Furthermore, it asked participants to consider individual initiatives including buying only secondhand clothes and giving up meat and dairy products.
The YouGov survey was carried out in the UK, France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Spain and Italy. Overall, the results suggest many people are happy with measures that would not greatly affect the way they lead their lives. However, anything that requires more impact was not popular.
Majorities in each of the countries surveyed said they were very or fairly worried about climate change and its effects.
In Italy, where the north of the country is experiencing its worst drought for 70 years, that majority is a staggering 81%. However, this is a slight drop from 2022 where Italy registered 83%. Other countries’ results this year ranged from 60% in Sweden, 63% in Germany and 65% in the UK to 77% in Spain, to 79% in France.
Fewer than 20% of respondents feel climate change is a result of human activity. There was also strong support of between 76% and 85% for the view that all countries would be more effective at tackling climate change if they worked together with others.
How much are people willing to change their lifestyle?
Measures which would mean little change in lifestyle were understandably popular. Government tree planting, and growing more plants themselves were acceptable options.
Furthermore, between 40% (Denmark) and 56% (UK, Spain and Italy) of respondents would happily never buy products made of single-use plastic again. Also, 43% in Italy would support the limiting of meat and dairy intake to two or three meals a week, with 48% backing government legislation to that effect.
Government subsidies for more energy efficient homes were incredibly popular. Support ranged from 86% in Spain to 67% in Germany. However, when it came to covering the costs personally, support was somewhat lower ranging from 19% in Germany to 40% in Spain.
Despite the birth rate already being very low in Italy, the idea of having fewer children than you would like, was not popular at all at 17% in Italy.
Cars and fuel choices
Asked whether they would be willing to switch to an electric car, 40% in Italy answered in the affirmative. This compared to a range from 19% in Germany to 32% in Denmark.
When asked about giving up driving in favour of using public transport, walking or cycling. In France, Spain and Italy, 35%, 44% and 40% respectively said they would be willing to make the move.
An obligatory increase in fuel duty, however, and government legislation banning the production and sale of petrol and diesel cars outright, were not popular.
Only respondents in Spain and Italy were happier with the idea of a ban on fossil fuel cars than opposed to it. The level of opposition in countries such as France and Germany, at more than 60%, almost doubled the support.