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Europeans more worried on Covid than climate change: Survey

Forty per cent of Europeans would find it easiest to give up flying to fight climate change, but most of them are more worried about Covid-19, says a survey on individual choices and actions. Also, they are unwilling to give up cars.

It said although most respondents are more worried about Covid-19 than climate change, they still believe their choices and actions can contribute to the fight against climate change.

Seventy-two per cent of Europeans and Americans, and 84 per cent of Chinese people believe that their own behavior can make a difference in tackling climate change, said the European Investment Bank (EIB) climate survey of more than 30,000 people published on Tuesday.

The second release of the 2020-21 Climate Survey explores people’s attitudes and views on climate change in a rapidly changing world.

The results from this release focus on how people intend to fight climate change in 2021, what they are willing to give up to tackle the climate crisis, and how the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting their travel habits and intentions to fight climate change.

Overall, only 10 per cent of Chinese people and 19 per cent of Europeans say they are making radical lifestyle changes to fight climate change, while as many as 27 per cent of Americans say so.

Future travel plans to be shaped both by the pandemic and climate concerns, they say.

Once travel restrictions related to Covid-19 are lifted, 37 percent of Chinese people, 22 per cent of Europeans, and 22 percent of Americans say they will avoid flying because of climate change concerns.

Forty-two percent of Europeans say they would take their holidays in their own country or a nearby country to minimize carbon emissions. Twenty-nine percent of Europeans, compared to 29 percent of Chinese people and 35 percent of Americans, say they will resume traveling by plane as they did before the pandemic.

When asked about Covid-19 and public transport, 75 percent of Americans, 71 percent of Chinese respondents, and 67 percent of Europeans say they are currently less likely to use public transport because they are worried about their health.

A majority of respondents, 79 percent of Chinese people, 67 percent of Americans, and 58 percent of Europeans, say they are more concerned about catching Covid-19 than they are about the long-term impact of climate change.

According to the survey, there is a global comparison — differences between European, American, and Chinese perceptions.

Regardless of where respondents live, people say that it would be easiest to give up flying to fight climate change — 40 percent for Europeans, 38 percent for Americans, and 43 percent for Chinese respondents.

Younger respondents are considerably more likely to believe their behavior can make a difference in fighting climate change compared to older respondents in Europe and in the US, while this gap is not observed in China.

The survey shows that in the European Union, 77 percent of 15-29 year-olds believe their behavior can make a difference, compared to 64 percent of respondents aged 65 or older.

In the US, the figures are 75 percent of 15-29 year-olds compared to 56 percent of respondents aged 65 or older.

“The post-Covid-19 period will provide an opportunity to take a quantum leap in the transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy. A green recovery could help us accelerate the significant cut in greenhouse gas emissions that is needed by 2030,” EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle said.

“People around the world are conscious that their individual behavior can make a difference. As the EU climate bank, our role at the EIB is to accelerate this green transition through the financing of clean energy, sustainable mobility solutions, and innovations that will enable people to change their habits in order to fight climate change.”

Textile production is one of the most polluting industries. It generates more CO2 equivalent emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.

A large proportion of clothing manufacturing occurs in China and India, where production mostly relies on coal-fuelled power plants.

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