Almost half of people say Government not doing enough on climate change, survey finds

27% think Government is doing enough, 26% say it is doing too much, too fast

Nearly one in two people think the Government is not doing enough to tackle the climate crisis, according to a new survey.

Responding to the Ireland Thinks poll, 46 per cent of respondents said they do not believe the Coalition is doing enough, fast enough, to cut the country’s pollution levels. Twenty-seven per cent believe that the Government is doing the right amount when it comes to tackling pollution, while 26 per cent said the Government response is “too much, too fast”.

Among current political party leaders, respondents were most sceptical of Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald’s commitment to tackling climate change. Green Party leader Eamon Ryan was seen to be the most committed leader on the issue.

In gauging the party leaders’ commitment to climate issues, respondents were asked to give each politician a score between zero and 10 – a score of zero indicating an opposition to responding to climate change, 10 indicating climate as a strong priority for the leader.


On average, Ms McDonald received a score of 4.1, with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar close behind on 4.6.

Mr Ryan had the highest average at 6.5, with Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns the second highest on 5.3.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin polled an average score of 4.9, with both People Before Profit’s Richard Boyd-Barrett and Labour leader Ivana Bacik scoring 4.7.

Among Sinn Féin voters polled, Ms McDonald scored an average of 5.6 – the lowest internal party score for a leader. Mr Boyd-Barrett averaged at 8.6 within his own party.

Some 63 per cent of people surveyed said they were more worried about the impacts of climate change than they were two years ago.

The survey was commissioned by Friends of the Environment Ireland. Two sets of people were polled for the survey in July and September, with a sample size of 1,413 and 1,060 respectively. (The margin of error in the July group was +/- 2.7 per cent, and +/- 3.1 per cent in September.)

The survey also polled people on a controversial post published on X, formerly Twitter, by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in August. In the since-deleted post, the agency urged consumers to “cut down” on red meat intake and to try more “veggie recipes”.

Following objections to the post from the Irish Farmer’s Association (IFA), it was deleted. The post had caused “considerable anger” among the farming community, according to the IFA.

But the results of the new survey show that a majority of people – 52 per cent – believe it was wrong to delete the post. Forty per cent think the decision was correct, with a further 8 per cent undecided. Among 18 to 34-year-olds, 63 per cent agreed that it was incorrect to delete the post.

Respondents were also asked about data centres, and to what extent they would support an “indefinite pause” on connecting new data centres to the grid. The question split opinion: 23 per cent they would strongly support a pause, with a further 25 per cent tending towards a pause.

But 15 per cent they would strongly oppose a pause on connecting data centres, with another 20 per cent tending towards opposing. Sixteen per cent were undecided.

Respondents were asked about their opinion on vigilante activists deflating the tyres of SUVs in recent months, seen as an effort to highlight the impact larger vehicles have on the environment. A strong majority of those polled said that SUV deflations would make “no difference” to their decision to buy such a vehicle.

However, 52 per cent of Green Party voters polled said they would be less likely to buy an SUV.

Oisín Coghlan, chief executive at Friends of the Earth Ireland, said that the poll results “should give the Government the confidence to scale up climate action urgently in the 2024 Climate Action Plan due out shortly.

“Two-thirds of people are more worried about climate change than they were two years ago and half don’t think the Government is doing enough to tackle it,” he said.

He noted that parties in Opposition have work to do on climate issues too. “As the Sinn Féin Ardfheis opens the poll finds that the public think Mary Lou is the party leader that least prioritises climate action.

“In our view Sinn Féin is getting more and more serious about climate policy but their leader still has some work to do to convince the public of her climate credentials. I look forward to seeing how she addresses this issue in her leader’s speech at this weekend’s ardfheis.”

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher is an Irish Times journalist