The Irish population accepts that climate change is occurring almost unanimously and has indicated that it will embrace a range policy options to mitigate against it.
This was just one of many findings from a major analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and its academic partner Yale University Program on Climate Change Communication. It looked at how the climate crisis had affected the collective Irish psyche.
Over 4,000 people participated in the analysis on a variety of topics. 98% said climate change is real and 85% said it was worrying to their personal lives.
Dr Margaret Desmond, the senior manager of climate services at EPA, stated that the findings showed that Irish people strongly supported climate mitigation policies and that they believe such policies will increase employment, economic growth, and quality of life.
“This is a compelling set of findings… We see overall that there are very high levels of acceptance by the population that climate changes are happening, and associated concern about their impacts. People are concerned about climate change.
“96% of the population agrees that climate change in Ireland is happening, while only 2% disagree… 88% believe that climate change in Ireland is affecting the weather, while 5% think it is not. 85% are concerned about climate change, with 37% describing themselves as very worried.” she said.
She said that scientists, experts, and EPA are highly trusted by public when it comes climate change information. However, politicians and religious leaders lack the same level of confidence.
The EPA said the study, the first of its kind to be undertaken in Ireland using Yale’s approach, “will be used to support climate change awareness and engagement campaigns, the design of national policy, and climate action”.
Laura Burke, Director General of the EPA, stated that the findings were definitive.
“This is a significant first step in an extremely valuable project that will help to understand the perceptions of Irish people about the environment challenge. This can fundamentally alter how we communicate on the topic.
The survey results clearly show that the majority of Irish people recognize the threat and feel personally affected by it. They want to see real change.
She said that the country is ready to transition to climate neutrality, and resilience.
“People see the benefits to themselves and Ireland in general and many are already advanced on the journey.”
The report found that people are more inclined to change their consumption and political habits than they are to see climate policies being implemented, mainly by Government actions.
Although Government grants were strongly supported for retrofitting homes and buying electric vehicles as well, less than a quarter of respondents strongly agreed to additional taxes on fossil fuel-powered cars. A third strongly supported banning peat, oil, and coal for home heating.