Environment

Europeans step up with personal action against air pollution – Eurobarometer survey

air pollution EU eurobarometer survey 2022

Photo: Anastasia Borisova from Pixabay

Published

October 26, 2022

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Published:

October 26, 2022

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Nearly eight in ten Europeans or 78% have carried out at least one action to reduce harmful emissions into the air, which is an increase of eight percentage points from 2019, according to the results of the special Eurobarometer survey on Attitudes of Europeans towards Air Quality.

The Eurobarometer survey on Air Quality was conducted in all 27 EU countries in March and April. It is the followup of a 2019 Special Eurobarometer on Attitudes of Europeans towards Air Quality.

Overall, the results show air quality is still a serious concern for European citizens.

A majority of Europeans still do not feel informed about air quality issues in their countries (60%), an increase since the Eurobarometer survey conducted in 2019. Increases are seen in 23 of 27 member states, according to the survey.

A majority of Europeans still do not feel informed about air quality issues

Just 27% of EU citizens have heard of EU air quality standards and a large majority of the respondents that did, say that they should be strengthened (67%).

At least one action to reduce air pollution was carried out by 78% of respondents or eight points more than in 2019.

There was 41% of respondents that said they have frequently used public transport or a bicycle, or chosen to walk instead of taking their car. It is six points more than in 2019. Two fifths (40%) of participants replaced older energy-intensive equipment with new equipment with a better energy rating. The share is one point higher than in the 2019 survey.

air pollution EU eurobarometer survey 2022 countries

Over one in five (22%) say they better insulated their house and made it more energy efficient.

Better informed Europeans are likely to take action

Among those polled, 16% say they changed their home heating system from a higher emission system to a lower one. Just over one in ten bought a low emission product to fuel their open fire or barbecue, while nearly one in ten (9%) say they bought an electric vehicle.

Over one in five (21%) of respondents said they had taken none of these actions, which is a decrease of 7 percentage points since the 2019.

The more informed respondents feel about air quality, the more likely they are to have taken actions to address this issue, according to the key findings.

Europeans are worried about environmental issues affecting water bodies

Most Europeans think that health conditions such as respiratory diseases (89%), asthma (88%), and cardiovascular diseases are serious problems in their countries resulting from air pollution.

Europeans are also worried about the environmental issues that air pollution causes in water bodies, for instance acidification and eutrophication (both 83%). Acidification, which is when water is becoming more acidic, and eutrophication (an excessive amount of nutrients in water leading to overgrowth of algae suffocating other organisms) are among the main consequences of worsening water quality, according to the survey results.

The most effective measure to address air pollution is stricter pollution controls

Europeans think that large industrial installations (73%), fossil-fuel based energy producers (66%) and public authorities (60%) are not doing enough, while the most effective measure to address air quality issues is stricter pollution controls on industrial and energy-producing activities.

Respondents prefer action on the international level (65%) compared to the European and  national levels (both 42%) or the regional and local level (32%), the survey results showed.

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