Europeans willing to give up air travel, eating meat, and buying new clothes to fight climate change

  • Pan-European study from Ford reveals 90% of Europeans feel a personal level of responsibility in the fight against climate change
  • Significant proportion of Europeans are willing to limit purchase of new clothes (34%), use their car less (34%), and give up travelling abroad in aeroplanes (25%)
  • Ford, which earlier this year pledged it was ‘all-in’ on electrification, has released the findings as part of its Go Electric series of reports

A new pan-European study looking at public attitudes towards climate change has revealed the personal sacrifices that people are willing to make in the fight against global warming.

Climate Countdown, the latest in Ford’s series of Go Electric reports, finds an overwhelming majority of Europeans (an average of 90 per cent in each of the 8 countries surveyed) feel they have some level of personal responsibility in the fight against climate change.

Asked about the main issues facing Europe today – which included important topics such as systemic racism, mental health provision, and rebalancing the economy – having a global plan to tackle climate change was viewed second only to COVID-19 recovery as the key priority. And while there was agreement that having a climate change plan was essential (29%), the same amount (29%) said that putting in stricter measures to curb climate change was needed immediately.

Released ahead of COP26, the crucial climate summit hosted in Glasgow, Ford’s research suggests a surprising level of willingness from the European public to forgo many of the trappings of modern life.

Among the key things that Europeans would be willing to sacrifice, not using plastics (45%), reducing energy consumption (45%) and purchasing locally produced goods (35%) came out on top. However, there is also a substantial proportion who said they’d be willing to limit the purchase of new clothes (34%), and the same percentage said they would be willing to use their car less (34%), while 25% said they would be willing to give up travelling abroad on aeroplanes. Only a very small minority of 4 percent said they would not be willing to make any sacrifices.

There was also clear indication that consumers expect businesses to be environmentally friendly: 87% said it was important that they buy products from businesses that have a positive or carbon-neutral contribution to the environment, with 56% saying it is either a very important (40%) or the most important (16%) consideration.

When it comes to European attitudes towards electric vehicles, the research found an increasing recognition amongst the public that EVs are the future (37%), but it also suggests there are still legitimate barriers to adoption. Charging concerns and range anxiety are still among the most significant perceived problems for consumers, with 39% saying they have concerns about where they could charge their vehicle, 24% saying they don’t think the infrastructure is there, and 30% saying EVs would put them off long journeys.

“This survey shows how much Europeans care about climate change and that they’re ready to take a number of individual actions to help fight it. When it comes to personal transportation, it is clear they see EVs as the future, yet what the survey also shows is that people continue to have concerns around charging infrastructure and perceived range anxiety” saidStuart Rowley, President Ford of Europe.

“I believe it is incumbent upon all stakeholders – government, both national and local, energy providers and auto companies – to make an emphatic case about the opportunities of electrification to consumers and to create the infrastructure necessary to support the vision, as it is only with a unified approach that we can deliver on this promise. Ford is all-in on electrification, and we are proud to be a leader in helping consumers make the switch to electrified vehicles.”

The full Go Electric: Climate Countdown report can be viewed here.

Ford’s first Go Electric report, The Road to 2030 and the UK’s all-electric future can also be viewed here.

Notes to editors:  

*Research methodology – To better understand people’s views on climate change, as well as their understanding of electric vehicles, we commissioned a survey of 2000 adults from across the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, and 1000 in the Netherlands, Norway.

The surveys, conducted by independent research agency OnePoll, covered a range of broad topics on climate change issues. The sample for each country was nationally and regionally representative by age and gender – except Poland and the Netherlands – and the results weighted to account for population differences. All surveys adhered to MRS code of standards.

Source: Ford, https://media.ford.com/content/fordmedia/feu/en/news/2021/10/27/europeans-willing-to-give-up-air-travel–eating-meat–and-buying.html