Europeans attitude towards the environment

Policy decisions on the environment to be made at European Union level

Over two-thirds of Europeans prefer policy decisions on the environment to be made at European Union level, according to a Eurobarometer survey published on March 13, 2008. The report also shows that Europeans are increasingly aware of the role played by the environment in their daily lives. More than 95% of European citizens feel that it is important to protect the environment. Some 80% also feel it influences their quality of life and consider that they have a role to play in protecting it. Climate change tops the list of Europeans' environmental concerns, followed by pollution and man-made disasters.Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: "Most Europeans say that the European Union should do more for the environment and that decisions on the environment are best made at European level. An overwhelming majority of Europeans see harmonised European environmental legislation as necessary, and believe that the EU should help other countries improve their environmental standards."

Europeans concerned about GMOs (genetically modified organisms)

While the Eurobarometer survey shows that the top five environmental issues Europeans are most concerned about are climate change, water and air pollution, man-made disasters, and the use of chemicals in everyday products, a majority are also uneasy about the use of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) in agriculture. Some 58% of European citizens say they are apprehensive about the use of GMOs and 21% they are in favour.

Europeans willing to buy green products

Europe's citizens demonstrate a remarkable willingness to buy environmentally-friendly products. About three quarters of Europeans declare they are ready to do so, even if this means paying a bit more. On average only 17% of Europeans said they had bought environmentally-friendly products within the previous month. This means that nearly 60% of Europeans say they are willing to switch to consuming green products, but have not yet done so. The majority of Europeans (52%) say they would be able to recognise a genuinely environmentally friendly product by its label.

Environmental protection not an obstacle to economic performance

As to whether environmental protection is an obstacle to favourable economic performance or a motivation to innovate, nearly two-thirds of Europeans feel that protecting the environment is more of an incentive to innovate (63%) than an obstacle to economic performance (16%). Almost as many Europeans (64%) feel that protecting the environment must be given priority over economic competitiveness and 18% feel that competitiveness is more important.

More than two-thirds of European citizens are also convinced that the progress of individual countries should be measured using social, environmental and economic indicators while a minority (15%) believe that progress should be mostly based on monetary and economic indicators.

Global responses to global problems

About two-thirds of European citizens prefer to see decisions on the environment made jointly within the European Union rather than at national level. A large proportion of Europeans also say that they see harmonised European environmental legislation as necessary (82%), that the EU should help non-EU countries improve their environmental standards (80%) and that the EU should allocate more money to the protection of the environment (78%).

Some 78% of Europeans also consider useful the creation of a European civil protection force to deal with natural disasters in their country.

For detailed information:
Eurobarometer: Attitudes of European citizens towards the environment