Irish people’s growing appetite for climate action

A new study on climate change in Ireland shows overwhelming agreement among Irish people on the threat of climate change and the desire for government action.

In December 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Ireland released its “Climate Change in the Irish Mind” report with the Yale University Climate Change Communication Program. The EPA conducted a nationally representative survey of 4,000 Irish people, the first of its kind in Ireland, in the summer of 2021.

90% of people think Ireland has a national responsibility to act on climate change

The report shows that 96% of Irish people believe climate change is happening. 85% are worried about the issue and 91% of people say it is personally important to them. Dr Anthony Leiserowitz of Yale University was surprised by the “remarkable” low level of climate denial in Ireland.

Almost all Irish believe that future generations and people in developing countries will be affected by climate change. 90% of people think Ireland has a national responsibility to act on the issue. They believe Ireland should do what it can to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions in order to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. In contrast, only 9% of people say Ireland is too small to make a difference on a global scale.

Responses to the survey did not reveal a significant city-country divide between Irish attitudes towards climate action. Environment, Climate and Communications Minister Eamon Ryan TD believes this research “will provide valuable information as we develop policies and initiatives that will support people in this transition together.”

Climate Action Ireland
72% of people say they discuss climate change “often” or “occasionally” with friends and family

Public trust and climate literacy

Nine in ten Irish people trust scientists as their source of information on climate change. This greatly reduces the risk that misinformation about climate change will circulate among the public. Other reliable sources include the EPA, educators, family and friends, and weather reporters.

The responses also suggest a good level of climate knowledge in Ireland. 72% of people say they discuss climate change “often” or “occasionally” with friends and family. Half of Irish people hear about climate change in the media once a week or more. Many are also willing to take political action and participate in political campaigns to promote climate action.

Climate Action Ireland
95% say they would support spending carbon tax revenue on renewable energy development

Support for government climate policy

A majority of people indicated that they would also support the government’s climate policies. 79% of Irish people say climate change should be a ‘very high’ or ‘high’ priority for the government. 90% believe that citizens, government and businesses should do more to fight climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. More than half of Irish people plan to increase their consumer activism in 2022. A large majority say they would support spending carbon tax revenues on the development of renewable energy, green infrastructure and energy programs. adaptation to climate.

Friends of the Earth Ireland spokesperson Deirdre Duff was heartened by the strong support to make climate policy a high priority for the government. She commented “there is also a strong suggestion that we have reached a point where delayed climate action will be punished in the polls”.

Green opportunities

People across the country are positive about the impact of climate change policies in Ireland. 62% of people believe that climate action will improve economic growth and create jobs. 78% say taking action to tackle climate change will improve the quality of life for Irish people. Speaking on the results, EPA Executive Director Laura Burke stressed “as a country – we are ready for the transition to climate neutrality and resilience, people are seeing the benefits for themselves. and for Ireland in general and many are already on the way “.

Positive public attitudes now provide Ireland with a significant opportunity to show climate leadership on a global scale. Continuing dialogue between the Irish public and policymakers is needed, according to Dr Leiserowitz, in order to take a further step on the road to climate neutrality.

Additional links

Irish Spirit Climate Change Report: https://www.epa.ie/publications/monitoring–assessment/climate-change/climate-change-in-the-irish-mind.php

Irish Spirit Climate Infographic: https://www.epa.ie/publications/monitoring–assessment/climate-change/EPA-Climate-in-the-Irish-Mind-INFOGRAPHICS-19.pdf

Irish-Minded Climate Demographic Summary: https://www.epa.ie/publications/monitoring–assessment/climate-change/EPA-Climate-in-the-Irish-Mind-Demographics-summary-19.pdf

Mary I. Bruner