76% of Swedish people in favour of stricter government measures imposing behavioural changes to address the climate emergency

(Source: European Investment Bank)

The first part of the 2021-2022 EIB Climate Survey explores people’s views on climate change in a rapidly changing world. The results from this release focus on citizens’ perceptions of climate change and the actions they expect their country to take to combat it. 

  • 75% of Swedish people think that climate change and its consequences are the biggest challenge for humanity in the 21st century
  • 76% are in favour of stricter government measures that impose changes on people’s behaviour (six points higher than last year)
  • 51% think the country will fail in drastically reducing its carbon emissions by 2050, as pledged in the Paris Agreement
  • 58% believe that they are more concerned about the climate emergency than their government is
  • 54% feel that climate change has an impact on their everyday lives
  • 82% say they want to replace short-distance flights by fast, low-polluting trains in collaboration with neighbouring countries

75% of Swedish people think that climate change and its consequences are the biggest challenge for humanity in the 21st century. This figure is greater than 65% in all sub-groups divided by age and political leanings within the Swedish population. A majority of Swedes (54%) also feel that climate change has an impact on their everyday lives.

However, this apparent consensus hides significant gaps between different groups of the Swedish population. Very diverse levels of concern and expectations on the topic of the climate can be seen among younger and older citizens, among people who have left-leaning and right-leaning political views, among men and women, and across different socioeconomic categories.

For example, 83% of 15-29 year-old respondents think that climate change and its consequences are the biggest challenge for humanity in the 21st century compared to 71% of respondents between 30 and 64 years old (a 12-point difference), and 78% for people aged 64 and above. There is a marked difference among people with different political views: 87% of those with left-leaning political views say that climate change is the biggest challenge for humanity in the 21st century, compared to 65% of those with right-leaning political views.

These are some of the results from the first release of the 2021-2022 Climate Survey published on October 27 by the European Investment Bank (EIB). The EIB is the lending arm of the European Union and the world’s largest multilateral lender for climate action projects.

Perception of the climate crisis: The country’s fight against climate change

The majority of Swedish people (54%) feel that climate change has an impact on their everyday lives. Although respondents across all age groups say they feel this impact, the generation gap is telling. While this perception is particularly marked among 15-29 year-olds (65%), the figure drops 22 points (43%) for people older than 64 and 12 points for 30-64 year-old respondents (53%). 57% of people who have left-leaning political views say they feel this impact in their everyday lives, which is 10 points higher than for those who have right-leaning political views (47%).

58% believe that they are more concerned about the climate emergency than their government. As a consequence, they are fairly sceptical regarding their country’s capability to undergo an ambitious green transition. Only 49% think that Sweden will succeed in drastically reducing its carbon emissions by 2050, as pledged in the Paris Agreement. A slight majority (51%) think that Sweden will fail to meet its reduced carbon emission targets. The generational gap here is particularly telling, with a 22-point difference between people younger than 30 (61% of them believe Sweden will succeed) and people older than 64 (39%). 61% of people over 64 believe Sweden will actually fail to meet the 2050 deadline. But only 39% of 15-29 year-old respondents share this scepticism.

As a consequence, three-quarters (76%) of Swedes are in favour of stricter government measures — similar to the ones implemented to combat the COVID-19 crisis — that would impose changes on people’s behaviour (six points higher than last year, 70%).

Meanwhile, only 10% of Swedes believe that global warming is not due to human activities. 13% of men share this view, while only 7% of women agree with this statement. Only 5% of Swedish people who have left-leaning political views believe that global warming is not due to human activities, which is seven points below the figure for people with right-leaning political views (12%).

The energy debate

When asked about the source of energy their country should rely on to fight global warming, the majority of Swedish people favour renewable energies (54%) to address the climate emergency. This sentiment is shared even more by Europeans as a whole (63%). Swedes with left-leaning political views support renewables much more strongly than those with right-leaning political views (74% compared to 41%, a difference of 33 points). Swedish women support renewables more strongly than men (60% compared to 49%, a difference of 11 points).

Swedes overall are much more supportive of nuclear energy than other Europeans (25% vs. 12%). In Sweden, people older than 64 (32%) are more in favour of nuclear energy than people younger than 30 (19%). The gender gap is also evident: men (36%) are much more in favour of nuclear energy than women (15%). People with right-leaning political views in Sweden are much more in favour of the development of nuclear energy (42%) compared to those with left-leaning political views (12%).

Finally, Swedes are less likely to think that their country should rely on energy savings than other Europeans (11% vs. 17%). Saving energy is ranked above an increased role for natural gas (6%). The gender gap in energy savings is also noticeable: women (15%) are much more inclined to support energy savings than men (8%).

Most popular solutions to fight climate change among Swedish people

The majority of Swedes (66%) would support — though to a lesser extent than Europeans in general (69%) — the introduction of a tax on products and services that contribute most to global warming. Even among respondents with lower incomes, 66% would be in favour of such a tax in Sweden. Swedes are also in favour of a 5-year minimum warranty on any electric or electronic product (89%) and replacing short-distance flights with fast, low-emission trains (82%). They also favour softer measures like strengthening education and increasing youth awareness of sustainable consumption (90%).

EIB Vice-President Thomas Östros said: “Despite some generational and sociodemographic divides, a strong majority of people in Sweden appear to want stricter measures and tools, such as cleaner energy sources, to help them fight climate change. In the course of COP26, this illustrates the importance of increasing our efforts and accelerating the ecological transition. As the European climate bank, the role of the EIB is to finance projects that focus on clean energy, energy savings, sustainable mobility solutions, as well as innovations that help limit the rise in temperature to 1.5°C or less.”

Download the Excel spreadsheet with the raw data for all 30 countries surveyed here. Please click here to access the EIB website that presents key findings of the EIB Climate Survey IV.

About the EIB Climate Survey

The European Investment Bank has launched the fourth edition of the EIB Climate Survey, a thorough assessment of how people feel about climate change. Conducted in partnership with market research firm BVA, the fourth edition of the EIB Climate Survey aims to inform the broader debate on attitudes and expectations in terms of climate action. More than 30 000 respondents participated in the survey between 26 August and 22 September 2021, with a representative panel for each of the 30 countries polled.

About the European Investment Bank

The European Investment Bank is active in around 160 countries and is one of the world’s largest multilateral lenders for climate action projects. The EIB Group has recently adopted its Climate Bank Roadmap to deliver on its ambitious agenda to support €1 trillion of climate action and environmental sustainability investments in the decade to 2030 and to deliver more than 50% of EIB finance for climate action and environmental sustainability by 2025. As part of the Roadmap, all new EIB Group operations have also been aligned with the goals and principles of the Paris Agreement since the start of 2021.

The EIB at COP26

The EIB will be present with a stand in Hall 4 of the Scottish Event Campus and will run a series of side events on a wide variety of topics. You can find the full agenda here.

About BVA

BVA is an opinion research and consulting firm recognised as one of the most innovative market research firms in its sector. Specialised in behavioural marketing, BVA combines data science and social science to make data inspiring and bring it to life. BVA is also a member of the Worldwide Independent Network of Market Research (WIN), a global network of some of the world’s leading market research and survey players, with over 40 members.

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