Research

More than 3 in 4 people in Ireland concerned about climate change

Sign reading 'fight today for a better tomorrow' being held at a climate rally
  • Almost half feel more responsible to help with environmental issues since the outbreak of Covid-19
  • 7 in 10 Irish people believe Government needs to introduce regulatory changes to force better behaviours
  • The ‘we’re all in this together’ leadership shown by Government during Covid-19 needs to be repeated to successfully deal with climate change

Most Irish people are concerned about climate change and are willing to do more, but are looking for definitive guidance from Government in the form of clearer rules. 

Those are the principal findings from recently conducted research by Aviva Life & Pensions Ireland DAC (Aviva), originally published in Ireland on 30 June 2021, which sought to gain insights into consumers concerns on the impact of climate change on our environment. The research also examined whether peoples’ views have changed since the outbreak of the pandemic and what measures need to be taken to accelerate better behaviours.

The research findings revealed that more than three in four (79%) of respondents are either very or mildly concerned about the impact of climate change on the environment, highest amongst 18-24-year olds.  Some 11% of people rarely think about it, and 10% don’t think about it at all.  

The research probed what effects of climate change the respondents were most concerned about, with extreme weather events in Ireland the leading factor at 65%. Over half (53%) are concerned about the broader effect globally, 40% cited rising sea levels in Ireland and 39% are worried about the negative impact on animals.

Responding to what extent people feel that they are making an effort to help combat climate change, almost three in four (71%) said they were making a huge effort or some effort, the strongest response of which came from the 45-54-year-old cohorts. However, more than half (52%) of respondents want to do more but busy lives get in the way. 45% of those surveyed said that they would like to better understand what they can do to help.

Environment friendly behaviours

The research explored what environment friendly activities respondents considered important in their own lives at present, with more than three in four (79%) saying that they make a conscious and consistent effort to recycle paper, plastic, and glass.  Almost two-thirds (65%) said they do the same with saving energy at home.  Some 33% are conscious of eco-friendly fashion, and 28% recorded both eco-friendly eating and eco-friendly travel.

Attitudes to climate change since outbreak of Covid-19

The outbreak of the pandemic has resulted in almost half of respondents (48%) to the survey being either more aware or much more aware of the impact of climate change on the environment. This was highest amongst the lower age cohort of 18-24-year-olds. This growth in awareness has resulted in almost half (46%) admitting that they feel more responsible to help with environmental issues since then, with 18-24-year-olds leading the charge once again.

As a consequence of the above, more than two in five (42%) said that they are going to recycle more, and more than one third (36%) saying that they are likely to be more environmentally conscious with purchasing decisions. This played out further with 29% who plan to buy fewer clothes and a further 29% stating that their next car would be electric or hybrid.  Some 17% of respondents intend to fly less and 4% plan on becoming single car households. 

In terms of purchasing decisions, the top priority for more than three in five (62%) was that they are likely to buy from companies that support and invest in the local community. In second place, 50% of those surveyed choosing to buy from companies that can keep their personal data secure, followed a close third at 49% choosing to buy from those companies that don’t have a negative impact on the environment.

Government action

Just over seven in 10 (71%) respondents think that government needs to introduce regulatory changes to force better behaviours in terms of environmental impact, highest amongst females and those aged 45 and over. However, of those that disagreed with this approach, the highest percentage was recorded amongst younger respondents (18-24-year-olds).  

"Aviva has been carbon neutral since 2006 and we have recently announced a plan to become net zero by 2040."

Finally, the research probed respondents to rank, in order of importance, what measures are most important to tackle climate change.  More than three in five (62%) think it is very important that the Irish government should take visible action to tackle climate change. 59% said that the media has a greater role to play in educating the public on climate change. Personal responsibility to take visible action was in third place at 57%, with 56% of respondents stating the importance for businesses to act.

Commenting Richard Jones, Aviva Life & Pensions said: “There are clear messages and learnings from this research. The support amongst the public for coordinated action and their willingness to take personal responsibility has risen considerably since the outbreak of the pandemic.  While the climate crisis is one of the greatest and most urgent threats facing our planet at present, the ‘we’re all in this together’ leadership shown by Government since the outbreak of Covid-19 now needs to be repeated to successfully deal with the negative impact of global warming. While the Climate Bill is welcome, we believe that the public are really looking for a clearer and more immediate set of regulatory steps and rules to ensure that we meet the long-term targets set out in the Bill.

“Aviva has been carbon neutral since 2006, supported by the purchase of instruments known as carbon credits to offset usage and we have recently announced a plan to become net zero by 2040, a full decade ahead of the Paris 2050 deadline, and the first insurance company to make this ambitious commitment.  Aviva plc is a global life and general insurance group and Ireland is one of its core markets, so we must become net zero* by 2040, in our general and life insurance businesses”, concluded Richard Jones.

-ENDS-

The research was carried out by iReach Insights Limited and was part of a nationwide study conducted as part of the iReach Consumer Decisions Omnibus Survey with 1,200 respondents. The fieldwork was undertaken at the end of April 2021.

*To support the delivery of Aviva’s ambitious climate goals, we are actively focused on the following activities:

  • Reducing and eradicating carbon emissions in our buildings and premises, using renewable sources of energy, and ensuring our car fleet is either electric or hybrid by 2040.
  • Ensuring our suppliers are aligned to our climate goals and can deliver products and services to us and our customers while reducing carbon to net zero levels.
  • Taking immediate action on the carbon intensive assets we insure, including coal, by ceasing to provide insurance cover for fossil fuel providers unless they commit to meeting scientific based net zero carbon targets.
  • Delivering net zero carbon emissions from our shareholder and policyholder investments by 2040 achieved through a 30% cut by 2025 and a 60% cut by 2030.  This includes the assets we invest in directly e.g. property and bonds plus the full range of investment funds provided by our fund managers including ESG and green funds.
  • Increasing active engagement through our fund managers, including Aviva Investors into the companies and sectors they invest in on our behalf. This is to ensure their investments meet our carbon reduction goals and applies to all investment assets where we or our investment managers have decision-making control. Where we don’t have this control – for example where it rests with trustees of pensions schemes – we will engage with the decision-makers to explain our approach.
  • Aviva Group will invest over €120m in nature-based solutions to remove carbon from the atmosphere.

Media Enquiries

Anne Mathews
Communications & PR Manager
anne.mathews@aviva.com / 087 246 0358

Notes to editors:

  • For information on how Aviva is helping our people, customers and communities impacted by COVID-19 visit: www.aviva.com/covid-19-our-response/
  • We exist to be with people when it really matters, throughout their lives. We have been taking care of people for more than 320 years, in line with our purpose of being ‘with you today, for a better tomorrow’. In 2020, we paid £30.6 billion in claims and benefits to our customers.
  • Aviva is invested in our people, our customers, our communities and our planet. In 2021, we announced our plan to become a Net Zero carbon emissions company by 2040, the most demanding target of any major insurance company in the world. This plan means Net Zero carbon emissions from our investments by 2040; setting out a clear pathway to get there with a cut of 25% in the carbon intensity of our investments by 2025 and of 60% by 2030; and Net Zero carbon emissions from our own operations and supply chain by 2030. Aviva has been leading this agenda for decades: Aviva was the first international insurer to go operationally carbon neutral in 2006 and we are champions of renewable energy and energy storage at our offices, allowing us to achieve our 2030 carbon reduction target (70% reduction on 2010 levels) 10 years early. Find out more about our climate goals at www.aviva.com/climate-goals and our sustainability ambition at www.aviva.com/sustainability.
  • Aviva is a Living Wage and Living Hours employer and provides market-leading benefits for our people, including flexible working, paid carers leave and equal parental leave. Find out more at www.aviva.com/social-purpose
  • We are focused on the UK, Ireland and Canada where we have leading market positions and significant potential. We will invest for growth in these markets. We will also transform our performance and improve our efficiency. Our transformation will be underpinned by managing our balance sheet prudently, reducing debt and increasing our financial resilience. We also have strategic investments in Singapore, China and India.
  • Total group assets under management at Aviva group as at 31 December 2020 are £535 billion and our Solvency II shareholder capital surplus is £12.5 billion as at 31 March 2021. Our shares are listed on the London Stock Exchange and we are a member of the FTSE 100 index.
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