European Law Monitor

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ELM News ImageEurobarometer: Europeans support greater EU action on energy and climate change

According to a recent Eurobarometer opinion survey, released today, the overwhelming majority of European Union citizens are concerned about climate change. Europeans are well aware of the impact of energy production and consumption on climate change and global warming, while an overwhelming majority feel that the best way to tackle energy-related issues would be at EU level.

“This survey clearly shows that EU citizens expect the EU to shape a common European response to face energy and climate change challenges”, said European Energy Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs. “The Commission is working to address citizens’ concerns with initiatives that will deliver an integrated energy policy for Europe that will tackle climate change and provide us with a sustainable, secure and competitive energy supply.”

Half of EU citizens are very much concerned about the effects of climate change and global warming, while a further 37% say that they are to some degree concerned about the issue. The level of concern increases significantly as we look further south: people in Spain, Cyprus, Malta and Greece are the most worried.

"Climate change is happening. EU citizens expect EU leadership on this issue. The EU must use this political momentum in order to put Europe and the World on the path to a more energy secure and low carbon future" said Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas.

More than eight out of ten Europeans (82%) are well aware that the way they consume and produce energy in their country has a negative impact on climate. For a majority of EU citizens (62%) the best way to tackle energy-related issues is “through measures agreed at EU level” as opposed to “measures agreed on at a national level”, an option preferred by 32%. Several policy initiatives of the EU also enjoy the support of the majority of citizens. 83% agree that the EU sets a minimum percentage of the energy used in each Member State that should come from renewable sources.

The survey shows that EU citizens are fairly certain that energy prices will increase significantly over the next decade due to ongoing climate change. More than seven out of ten Europeans feel that they will need to change their energy consumption habits in the next decade (76%), and that they will need to install energy-saving heating, lighting, cooling and other such equipment (72%).

Europeans believe that it is essential to have a real choice of supplier for electricity and gas (85%), and that environmental concerns also play a role in their preference for free competition. Currently, 80% of EU citizens say energy efficiency influences their decision when buying household appliances. When asked what actions citizens would most welcome from authorities in helping them cope with future energy challenges, they most often indicated monetary assistance to upgrade the energy-efficiency of their living space.

When asked, 61% of the overall EU population think that the share of nuclear energy should be decreased due to concerns such as nuclear waste and the danger of accidents. At the same time, Europeans almost unanimously (92%) back the introduction of common, high safety requirements for all nuclear installations in the EU.

Finally, almost two thirds (65%) believe the EU is in a better position to negotiate energy supplies and prices for all Member States, against 26% who prefer their government to act independently. Europeans express a strong level of solidarity on the issue of energy: almost eight out of ten (79%) EU citizens agree that in the case of a sudden shortage of oil and gas, the affected Member State should be able to rely on the reserves of other EU countries, while only 17% is opposed to this.