Europeans see climate change as top challenge for the EU

Europeans see climate change as top challenge for the EU
Climate march in Brussels, 2019. Credit: Belga

Nine out of 10 young Europeans say that tackling climate change can help improve their own health and well-being, according to a recent survey from the EU’s Eurobarometer.

People aged 15-24 listed the environment as a top priority when it comes to European policy, with 86% of all respondents echoing the sentiment.

The year 2022 has been designated the European Year of Youth, and young people were invited to take special part in the Conference on the Future of Europe.

Climate change a key issue for all Europeans

Europeans see climate change and the environment (44%), health (40%), as well as a stronger economy, social justice and jobs (40%) as key issues for the Conference.

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A majority (88%) said it was important to increase the share of renewable energy in the European economy and achieve greater energy efficiency, something many countries like Belgium have already taken strides towards in the form of erecting wind farms and subsidising solar panel installations.

80% of respondents agreed on the importance of making Europe the world's first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

A study carried out by an independent Belgian organisation at the end of last year concluded that offshore wind farms could be key to achieving that climate neutrality.

Citizens want to be heard

"Today's survey on the Future of Europe confirms that a large majority of citizens wants their voice to be heard: 90% say that the citizens’ voice should be taken more into account when making decisions on the future of Europe," European Parliament spokesperson Jaume Duch Guillot told The Brussels Times.

"It is very interesting to see that the Conference on the Future of Europe is seen as a possible tool to achieve just that. Nearly half of the respondents could imagine taking part in Conference meetings in their area."

Duch Guillot said that citizens are more encouraged to participate if they know that their participation has a real impact.

"Last weekend, we saw some very lively discussions in the Conference Plenary in Strasbourg, with citizens pleading for their recommendations on among others European democracy, values and rights, climate change and the environment, and health," said Duch Guillot.

"It is very clear that for the European Parliament, the Conference on the Future of Europe should not be a listening exercise only, but it is important that there is a real follow-up on the proposals made."

The survey was carried out between 16 September and 17 October 2021 in all 27 EU Member States, with 26,530 interviews conducted in total.

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