Irish climate-change policies should turn on ‘science, not politics’

Strong backing for more ambition to address carbon emissions, according to poll

A poll on the extent of public support for climate action that might be undertaken under a new programme for government indicates strong backing for increased ambition in addressing carbon emissions.

Despite difficult economic times ahead, almost two-thirds of adults in Ireland believe it remains important that the incoming government prioritises climate change.

The poll of 1,021 adults was conducted by Opinions Market Research between May 12th to May 18th for the environmental group Friends of the Earth.

Some 90 per cent of respondents believe Irish climate-change policies should be guided by science rather than politics – as was the case with Covid-19.


There is large support (92 per cent) for government initiatives to support jobs by encouraging the improvement of a home’s energy efficiency.

Some three out of four citizens believe investment in transport should favour safe walking, cycling and public transport ahead of private vehicles; this support is at 80 per cent in Dublin and at 72 per cent in rural Ireland.

Almost three in four people polled agreed carbon emission reductions should be pursued to ensure more sustainability in farming. Support for this action was reflected across all regions. In Dublin, the figure was 79 per cent for; in the rest of Leinster it was 72 per cent; in Munster 70 per cent; and Connacht-Ulster 68 per cent.

What was the extent of opposition?

Friends of the Earth director Oisín Coghlan said he believed the scale of public support for serious climate action indicated in the poll was overwhelming.

“We hope the results will give all three parties negotiating a programme for government the confidence to put faster and fairer climate action at the heart of everything a new government does,” he said.

“We simply can’t afford to waste another five years dabbling at the edges of climate action. This poll shows that across all parts of Irish society, regardless of age, gender, class or urban/rural, there is a large majority in favour of stronger action to reduce pollution from transport, buildings and farming,” he added.

Seven in 10 Irish citizens feel “very strongly” that a failure to act on climate change is a failure to act in the best interests of the people of Ireland. This view is held most strongly among those aged under 35, with 76 per cent agreement within that cohort. Only 23 per cent of respondents either “disagree strongly” or “disagree somewhat”.

Full details of the poll are available here.

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times