Only half of citizens convinced that climate change is a serious problem

53% believe they have a role to play in tackling the issue

Energy education of younger generations now delivering results

4th December 2015

Marking the 21st UN Climate Change Conference (COP21), currently underway in Paris, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has today announced the results of a poll of over 1,000 members of the general public, seeking their views on climate change issues facing Irish society. The survey shows that just half of the population believe that climate change is a serious problem. 53% of citizens believe that they have a role to play in tackling climate change, putting themselves ahead of businesses, environmental groups and local authorities.

Key highlights include;

  • Just 49% of respondents believe climate change is a serious problem
  • 53% of respondents believe they have a role to play in addressing climate change ahead of the role they see for businesses and environmental groups (both at 43%).
  • The general public significantly underestimate the contribution of the residential sector to energy related emissions, while overestimating the contribution of industry
  • Seven out of 10 respondents say energy is an important consideration when buying a house or car. Six out of 10 say it is important for kitchen appliances and lights

When asked about government actions to reduce dependency on imported energy respondents' clear preference was to develop the use of renewables (77%) followed by promoting advanced research in new energy technologies (53%).

The survey shows that people have a good understanding of where we currently get our energy from (predominantly fossil fuels) and that they anticipate a massive swing towards renewables in the future, mainly wind, hydro and solar energies.

Speaking today Dr Eimear Cotter, Head of Low Carbon Technologies at SEAI said, "the scientific analysis is indisputable and the need for urgent action is clear. What this research suggests however is that we still have to convince half of the population of the seriousness of climate change. 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."

Cotter continued, "the research gave us interesting insights compared to similar research almost 20 years ago. It suggests that there has been a massive jump in children's perceived knowledge of saving energy (68%) and the influence which they have on family attitudes (61%). This knowledge and influence will hopefully in time translate into wider societal awareness."

- ENDS -

Click here to download a PDF of this release


For further information:
Jessica Devenney / Morwenna Rice
Drury | Porter Novelli
01 260 5000 /

Notes to Editor:


The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has a mission to play a leading role in the transformation of Ireland to a society based on sustainable energy structures, technologies and practices. SEAI is partly financed by Ireland's EU Structural Funds Programme co-funded by the Irish Government and the European Union.


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