Half of Irish people believe climate change a serious issue

More than 50% say they have a role in tackling the issue ahead of businesses

Mace Head Atmospheric Research Station, near Carna, Co Galway. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Mace Head Atmospheric Research Station, near Carna, Co Galway. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

 

Less than half of the Irish population believe climate change is a serious problem, a new survey shows.

Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) carried out the poll asking 1,000 people for their views on climate issues facing Irish society as the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) continues in Paris.

The figures showed 49 per cent of the people who responded thought climate change was a serious problem.

However, 53 per cent said they a role to play in tackling the problem ahead of businesses and environmental groups.

Dr Eimear Cotter, head of the low carbon technologies at the SEAI, said the scientific analysis was indisputable and urgent action was needed.

“However, we still have to convince half of the population of the seriousness of climate change,” she said.

“Increased awareness will mean we can have an informed debate about our options and choices that we need to make if we are to take fossil fuels and carbon out of our energy system.”

Dr Cotter said the research showed there had been a large increase in children’s perceived knowledge of saving energy and the influence they have on family attitudes.

“This knowledge and influence will hopefully in time translate into wider societal awareness,” she said.

The figures showed seven out of 10 said energy was an important consideration buying a car, while 60 per cent said power use was significant factor for kitchen appliances and lights .

John Gibbons, a spokesman for An Taisce said low public awareness of climate change risks could be explained by lack of coverage.

“Taken at face value, the SEAI finding that only one in two Irish people is aware of the profound environmental crisis that threatens all our futures is both a wake-up call for Ireland and also an indictment of a collective failure to grasp the scale and gravity of the threats posed by climate change to our way of life,” he said.