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People In Ireland Support Climate Policies, With Opposition Specific To Local Concerns & Issues

  • People in Ireland feel that ‘others’ – such as future generations or people far away – are more threatened by climate change than themselves in the here and now.
  • This means that many people underestimate the immediate risks and already-occurring effects of climate change here in Ireland.
  • The youngest adults (18-24 years) consistently exhibit significantly higher levels of concern, with young women most concerned about climate change.
  • People in Ireland support climate change policies. Where opposition to climate policies arise, it appears to be driven by practical concerns, rather than by scepticism or suspicion of the science of climate change.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has today published two insight reports from its ‘Climate Change in the Irish Mind’ study. The reports ‘Climate Change in the Irish Mind – Support for Climate Policies’ and ‘Climate Change in the Irish Mind – Climate Risk Perceptions’ provide a detailed examination of some of the findings of the baseline study published in 2021.

The insight reports show that despite high levels of concern among the Irish public about climate change and high levels of overall support for climate action, there is a sense that ‘others’, or people in other countries and people in the future, will be more impacted than Irish people in the here and now. The reality is that climate change is already having real and measurable impacts on people in Ireland, and this is likely to increase in the future without concerted action.

The reports also show that among a minority of people (on average 30%) there is opposition to specific climate policies reflecting practical concerns such as the feasibility of electrifying home heating and transport.

Launching the reports, Dr. Eimear Cotter, Director of the EPA’s Office of Evidence & Assessment said: “This assessment indicates that the majority of people in Ireland support climate policies. People who oppose climate policies are not, however, climate deniers and opposition does not appear to be reflective of underlying concerns or suspicions around climate change. Rather, it appears to be specific to localised concerns and issues which must be addressed to enact major climate change policies”.

She added, “Today’s report also shows that there is an ‘othering’ or disconnection from the impacts of climate change. People believe that it will harm people in the future, far away, animals and plants, other people, and lastly themselves personally. This shows how important it is to convey the immediacy of the threat of climate change to people, that each of us is already being impacted by it and will be increasingly impacted into the future unless action is taken now”.

The Climate Change in the Irish Mind insight reports focus on the national responses to risk perceptions and policy support.

Speaking about the findings Dr. Conor Quinlan, Senior Manager in the Office of Evidence and Assessment said: “Age is the biggest factor in determining how concerned people are about climate change. The youngest adults (18-24 years) consistently exhibit significantly higher levels of concern and risks perceptions in relation to climate, with young women disproportionately concerned about climate change. And unlike some groups, they act on these concerns: young people’s consumer choices and purchasing patterns reflect their perception of climate change as a major risk”.

The insight reports can be found on the EPA website, HERE and HERE.

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