Air pollution and waste increase EU citizens’ concerns on environmental issues, according to the Eurobarometer

Air pollution and the growing amount of waste are the most pressing environmental concerns of Europeans after climate change, while more citizens take individual action to help reduce our environmental footprint. At the same time, a growing number of citizens want the EU to address their environmental concerns, according to a special Eurobarometer survey, published on Tuesday in Brussels.

The latest Special Eurobarometer survey on “Attitudes of European citizens towards the environment” was carried out in the 28 member states between 23 September and 2 October 2017. A total of 27,881 EU citizens from different social and demographic groups were interviewed face-to-face in their mother tongue.

?ore specifically, invited to say “how important is protecting the environment to you personally” 87% of Cypriots (+15pp) and 57% of Europeans (+3pp) answered “very important”.

Three years on from the most recent similar Eurobarometer survey, Europeans concern about the environment remains invariably high, with 4 out of 5 saying that environmental issues affect their daily health and life. 90 % say they are worried about the impact of chemicals present in everyday products. The same index in Cyprus reaches 80%.

Individual responsibility for tackling pollution is on the increase: 87% see a role for themselves in protecting the environment � and 2/3 think they, as citizens, can do more (58% of Cypriots totally agree and 29% tend to agree with this statement).

This does not mean that big polluters should be off the hook: almost all Europeans (94%) think that big polluters have the primary responsibility for repairing the damage they cause (83% of Cypriots totally agree and 14% tend to agree with this statement).

Separating waste for recycling (65 % in the EU and 58% in Cyprus), buying local products (43% in the EU and 53% in Cyprus), saving energy (35% in the EU and 35% in Cyprus) are the three most frequent actions taken by Europeans to protect the environment. A promising 72% of Europeans have cut down the use of plastic bags (22% in Cyprus), 38 % of them in the last year.

The survey reveals trust and high expectations when it comes to the role of the EU in protecting the environment and citizens heath. More than 2/3 says that decisions about protecting the environment should be made jointly within the EU � an increase of 7 % since the last survey in 2014, with Finland topping the list of above average increase with a plus of 17 %. 75% of Cypriots agree with EU action and 25% prefer national action.

But there are big variations across the EU: 4 in 5 citizens in the Netherlands and Germany support a joint decision making, whereas half of them in Croatia and the Czech Republic. A growing number of citizens want the EU to assist non- EU countries to improve their environmental standards (+ 8%).

Europeans show more or less equal support for a broad range of measures: investment in research and development for new solutions, heavier fines for environmental offenders, stricter enforcement and rules, financial incentives and better information and training to help people adopt greener habits.

To improve air quality, stricter pollution controls for industry and energy production, and for new vehicles are seen as most effective. Around half of Europeans think that air quality deteriorated in the last ten years. 69% of Cypriots believe that air quality has deteriorated, 29% that it remained the same and only 5% that it has improved.

Source: Cyprus News Agency