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Poll finds large majority supports greater Government action on climate change

21 May 2020

"Stunning" numbers should give confidence to parties negotiating Programme for Government

Irish Times article here

As the government formation talks focus today on climate policy, Friends of the Earth has published the results of an opinion poll showing overwhelming public support for greater government action to reduce polluting emissions. The headline findings include 9 out of 10 people saying that the government should be guided by science and expert advice on climate action as they have been on Covid-19. And 71% saying the next government will be failing the people of Ireland if they do not act now to combat climate change.

The poll was carried out by Opinions Market Research over 7 days up to Monday 18th, on a nationally representative quota sample of 1021 people, with a resulting margin of error of +/- 3.1%

Commenting, Oisín Coghlan, Director of Friends of the Earth, said

“The scale of public support for serious climate action in this poll is stunning. We hope the results will give all three parties negotiating a Programme for Government the confidence to put faster and fairer climate action at the heart of everything a new Government does.

“We simply can’t afford to waste another 5 years dabbling at the edges of climate action. This poll shows that across all parts of Irish society, regardless of age, gender, class or urban/rural, there is a large majority in favour of stronger action to reduce pollution from transport, buildings and farming.

"Most striking is the finding that 90% of people believe the Government should be guided by science and expert advice when making climate policy. The science and expert advice couldn't be clearer: If we're at all serious about achieving the goal of the Paris Agreement then Ireland needs to cut its emissions by at least 7.6% a year for the next decade. So it's good to see the discussion on how to do that is centre stage in the government formation talks."

The headline findings of the poll include:

  • 9 in 10 believe Government climate change policies should be guided by science and expert advice, as was the case with Covid-19.

  • 71% believe the next government will be failing the people of Ireland if it does not act now to combat climate change
  • Almost two-thirds of adults in Ireland believe that it is important that the government prioritises climate change in the economic recovery plans after Covid-19.
  • There is near-universal support (90%) for government initiatives to support jobs by encouraging home improvements for energy efficiency.
  • 3 out of every 4 citizens in Ireland believe that investment in transport should favour safe walking, cycling and public transport ahead of private cars. It's 79% in cities and suburbs and, strikingly, is still 72% in rural areas.
  • Two-thirds of people living in rural areas believe emissions from agriculture need to be reduced by supporting a move to more sustainable farming. Nationally it's three-quarters.

Mr Coghlan continued:

"The poll findings challenge the conventional wisdom in public debate on climate policy in a number of ways. For instance, climate action is often pitched as an urban versus rural issue but the poll suggests that framing doesn't match public opinion.

"Support for science-based policy is even higher (at 93%) among rural respondents than urbanites. The overwhelming support for home energy improvements is identical between urban and rural at 90%. More than 7 in 10 rural residents agree transport investment should prioritise cycling, walking, buses and trains over private cars. And even on the media's favourite issue of "farmers versus environmentalists" that split is much less evident on the ground than on the airwaves, with 66% of those living outside urban areas supporting reductions in agri-emissions by moving to more sustainable farming. That compares to 73% nationally.

"Equally, it's very ingrained in media debate to present climate action as a trade-off between the environment and the economy. The poll findings show that the vast majority of the public have a more sophisticated analysis, with 90% agreeing the Government can create jobs by supporting home improvements to save energy, and two-thirds agreeing that the post-Covid economic recovery plan can and should prioritise actions that reduce polluting emissions."

The Opinions Market Research report can be downloaded here.

 Social results 1 Agree-Disagree

Social results 2 Fail the People

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