Half of people polled feel Ireland should go beyond 51% emissions cut

Support for larger emissions cuts highest among the youth and in Dublin

Asked whether corporations should pay a carbon tax, 87 per cent of people felt they should. Photograph: iStock

Asked whether corporations should pay a carbon tax, 87 per cent of people felt they should. Photograph: iStock

 

A majority of people feel Ireland should try to meet its target of cutting emissions by 51 per cent by 2030, with half of those surveyed believing the country should go further to tackle climate change.

Some 29 per cent of people polled said Ireland should “do much more” than cutting emissions by 51 per cent by the end of the decade.

Twenty-one per cent said Ireland should “do more”, when asked in an opinion poll commissioned by environmental group Friends of the Earth.

The question asked in the poll noted the emissions target was “still less than our action required to fulfil the Paris Climate Agreement”, but in line with EU and US commitments.

Some 30 per cent of people said the target, set out in carbon budgets announced earlier this week, was “about right”, while 16 per cent felt Ireland should do less.

Support for doing “much more” was higher among supporters of Solidarity-People Before Profit than it was among Green Party voters.

Similarly, more than four in 10 young people surveyed between 18 and 34 felt Ireland should do “much more” when it came to cutting emissions.

Nearly half of Fianna Fáil voters felt the target was “about right”, compared to 43 per cent of Fine Gael supporters.

More than a fifth of respondents in Connacht and Ulster opposed the 51 per cent emissions cut. In Munster, 30 per cent felt the target was about right, while 49 per cent wanted the country to do more, or much more.

Support for going beyond the current target was highest in Dublin, where 36 per cent of respondents felt Ireland should do “much more”.

The poll of more than 1,000 people was carried out by Ireland Thinks, a polling company run by statistician Dr Kevin Cunningham.

The responses were a “nationally representative sample” of more than 30,000 panellists, to ensure a spread of respondents across age, gender, region, and party support.

The poll was carried out in three stages, over two days in July, August and October this year.

When asked what people felt the most important issue facing the country was, climate change did not feature prominently.

Some 38 per cent of people polled said Covid-19 was the biggest issue at present, followed by a quarter of people who said housing. The economy was the third most important issue at 7.6 per cent.

Only 2.6 per cent of those surveyed felt climate and the environment was the most important issue facing the country.

Just under two thirds said it was important to prioritise climate action in the economic recovery following Covid-19, while 31 per cent disagreed.

Asked whether corporations should pay a carbon tax, 87 per cent of people felt they should, with seven per cent disagreeing.

When asked what the impact of “cutting climate changing pollution” would be, six out of 10 said mostly positive. While 19 per cent responded it would be mostly negative, and 21 per cent said they did not know.

Oisín Coghlan, director of Friends of the Earth, said the poll results should give politicians “the confidence to support the action we so desperately need to avoid climate breakdown.”

Mr Coghlan said TDs “tend to hear most from vocal vested interests worried about the impact of particular actions on their industry in the short term,” which were also well aired in the media.