Irish Times poll: Climate change ‘most serious issue’ for majority of voters

Respondents split over willingness to pay more for fossil fuels to tackle problem

Demonstrators at a major climate protest  in  Dublin in May. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Demonstrators at a major climate protest in Dublin in May. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

A majority of voters believe climate change is the most serious issue facing the world – but they are not convinced about carbon tax increases, and a substantial minority are sceptical about the urgency of the problem. The findings are from the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll, taken among 1,200 voters from Friday to Sunday.

More than half of all voters (55 per cent) said they agree that climate change “is the most serious issue facing the world”, with 36 per cent disagreeing with the statement.

A similar percentage of voters (54 per cent) said they were prepared to reduce their standard of living to combat climate change. However, when asked specifically if they were willing to pay more for fossil fuels such as petrol and diesel to tackle climate change, almost half of voters (48 per cent) said no. And voters do not want the Government to spend money on climate change at the expense of public services – 56 per cent disagree with the proposal to spend more money on climate change and less on public services. And just one-third of voters said they were not “that worried” about climate change.

Asked about the statement “I don’t think climate change will be as bad as people say so I’m not that worried about it” 57 per cent disagreed, while 33 per cent agreed. Voters were offered a series of statements and asked whether they agreed or disagreed.

On “I am okay with reducing my standard of living in order to help tackle climate change”, 54 per cent agreed and 36 per cent disagreed. However, when asked about specific measures – such as increases in fossil fuel prices – almost half said they disagreed with the idea. Those most convinced of the urgency of climate change tend to be younger, urban and better-off voters. Those less likely to be worried about it – and so less convinced of the need for action – tended to be older, rural, less well-off voters. Farmers were most sceptical about action on climate. Among the parties, Sinn Féin voters were the least supportive.