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Opinion poll: Even Green Party voters are cool on many climate measures

Respondents presented with nine potential measures to tackle crisis of global warming

Today's Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll highlights the significant challenges the Government is likely to face in getting voters on board with initiatives to tackle climate change.

Our poll was conducted between 2nd and 5th of October among a national quota sample of 1,200, representative of the about 3.6 million adults aged 18 upwards, covering 120 sampling points throughout all constituencies in the Republic.

Voters were presented with nine potential measures to tackle climate change and asked whether they would personally support or oppose each one. Allowing more land to be used for wind energy/turbines, supported by 68 per cent of voters, is the only measure that registered a majority in favour.

The remaining eight measures record varying levels of majority opposition.


The most unpopular one is paying higher taxes on energy and fuel, with 82 per cent of voters against. Opposition is highest among farmers (90 per cent) and those living in Connacht/Ulster (90 per cent).

Running the risk of interruptions to electricity is almost equally unpopular, with 81 per cent of voters not viewing energy disruptions as a price worth paying. Farmers are particularly opposed to this measure, at 89 per cent. Energy supply continuity has the potential to be a political hot potato in the years ahead.

Climate measures that will cost people money are staunchly opposed. Voters are firmly against making it more expensive to buy petrol and diesel cars (72 per cent) and reject the idea of higher property taxes for homes that are not energy efficient (69 per cent). Just over half (53 per cent) are opposed to higher taxes on air travel.

Understandably, there is a geographical divide when it comes to making it more expensive to buy petrol and diesel cars; those in rural areas are considerably more likely to be opposed (82 per cent) than those in urban areas (67 per cent).

Higher property taxes for homes that are not energy efficient is most likely to meet resistance among homeowners, as reflected in the high level of opposition among those aged 50 or older (75 per cent).

A particularly sensitive proposal to reduce emissions is the reduction in the national cattle herd. Naturally, opposition to this measure is highest among farmers at 85 per cent, but non-farming households also reject this with 59 per cent against.

Opinion is somewhat divided on a nationwide ban on burning smoky fuels like coal and peat which is opposed by 49 per cent of voters and supported by 45 per cent. A majority of those living in Dublin support this measure (55 per cent).

What about data centres?

Also splitting voters is the suggestion of placing a ban on building new data centres in Ireland, this is opposed by 46 per cent of voters, with 38 per cent in favour.

The challenge facing the Government is highlighted not just by the rejection of eight of the nine measures overall, but also by the fact that four of the nine were rejected by the majority of Green Party voters; higher taxes on energy and fuel (57 per cent against), running the risk of interruptions in electricity supply (69 per cent against), making it more expensive to buy petrol and diesel cars (57 per cent against) and higher property taxes for homes that are not energy efficient (54 per cent against).

Ultimately, addressing climate change will involve some pain. Today’s Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll raises questions about our appetite as a nation to make the necessary sacrifices. The population that support more than half of the measures is just 29 per cent. We all know that we need to do something, but we are far from reaching a consensus on what needs to be done.