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Pan-European Climate Impact Research

June 6, 2024

Climate change ‘biggest threat to way of life in next ten years’, according to major EU-wide survey

The survey aims to understand perceptions and attitudes across Europe towards climate change and environmental sustainability, identifying perceived threats and evaluating concerns about its severity and impacts. It also explores environmental concerns, behavioural patterns, and lifestyle choices related to conservation and sustainable practices, investigating intergenerational worries and geographical mobility influenced by extreme weather events. Additionally, it examines public perceptions of government actions on climate issues and personal responsibility for climate action. By doing this, we can ascertain which countries across the continent are most concerned about climate change, and understand how this is affecting their daily behaviour and life choices.

This survey was carried out by Mortar Research taken by a total of 11,726 respondents on both mobile and desktop devices. The study ran on 10th-16th May 2024.

Respondents were aged 18+ and based in Europe. Nationally representative quotas were in place for Germany, Sweden, Italy, Spain, France, and Poland.

Quotas in the remaining European countries were in line with nationally representative quotas on age and gender, but not with a significant sample size. Apart from the following countries, where we sampled respondents in Malta, Cyprus and Luxembourg without any quota requirements.*

*Due to a mixture of sampling requirements, reporting and conclusions being made from the research need to consider the sample size differences in between countries.

Key takeaways

  • Climate change, crime, and economic stability are perceived as the biggest threats to people’s way of life over the next 10 years.
  • Italians are most likely across at EU countries to believe that climate change is a threat to their way of life.
  • A substantial majority (79%) of respondents believe that man-made climate change is happening, with Italians exhibiting the highest acceptance (85%; ranking in the top three across EU countries).
  • Concerns about plastic pollution/microplastics, climate change, deforestation, water pollution, air pollution, extreme weather events (e.g., heavy rain/flooding or violent storms), and disappearing animal species rank high among respondents’ environmental worries. Spain has the highest levels of concerns across key markets and ranks third across Europe.
  • Avoiding food waste and saving energy at home are commonly practiced behaviours by respondents; with Italy and France being among the top EU countries to show the highest commitment to environmentally friendly behaviours.
  • Most respondents express concern about how climate change will affect future generations, with Italy and Spain being among the most concerned about the impact of climate change on the next generation.
  • Extreme weather events such as heatwaves, droughts, and floods are expected to influence where people choose to live in the next 20 years; increased temperatures/heatwaves being their top worry followed by drought/water scarcity concerns.
  • Respondents have mixed views on political bodies’ performance on environmental/climate issues across Europe, with Spain having the most negative perception across key markets.
  • Anticipated changes due to extreme weather include increased temperatures in summer and less snow in winter.

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TAGS: Sustainability & ESG