Europeans back personal carbon budget scheme to tackle climate

Seven out of ten Europeans aged between 20-29 say the climate performance of a company will have a major influence in their choice of employer, with 56% of Europeans backing the introduction of a personal carbon budget.

The figure comes from the results of the latest 2022-2023 European Investment Bank (EIB) Climate Survey which set out to explores people’s views on climate change.

The study found 76% of Europeans aged 20-29 say the climate impact of prospective employers is an important factor when job hunting, and 22% say it is a top priority.

It found 66% of all European respondents are in favour of stricter government measures to impose a change in personal behaviour (72% of people under 30).

A total of 79% of European respondents are in favour of labelling all food to help limit the impact on climate and the environment, with 62% of Europeans saying they would pay more for climate-friendly food.

“The war in Ukraine and its consequences, including rising energy prices and inflation, have dramatically increased concerns about declining purchasing power in Europe,” said the EIB. “However, climate change remains the second biggest challenge facing Europeans, according to respondents. Nearly three-quarters of respondents (72%) say they are convinced that their own behaviour can make a difference in addressing the climate emergency.”

The survey added for many, the government has a role to play in encouraging individual behavioural change. Two-thirds of Europeans (66%) are in favour of stricter government measures imposing a change in people’s behaviour to tackle climate change and 72% of respondents under 30 would welcome such measures.

“A growing number of people entering the workforce each year are looking at employers’ climate credentials when job hunting,” It added. “Nearly two-thirds of Europeans (62%) say it is important that prospective employers prioritise sustainability. For 16% of Europeans, it is even a top priority. Of people aged 20 to 29 — typically those looking for their first job — over three-quarters (76%) say that sustainability is an important factor in their choice of employer, with 22% saying it is a top priority.”

The EIB said the survey found the majority of European respondents (56%) say they would be in favour of a carbon budget system that would allocate each individual a fixed number of yearly credits to be spent on items with a big carbon footprint (non-essential goods, flights, meat, etc.). In comparison, Chinese respondents strongly favour such a measure (83%), but Americans are less supportive, with less than half in favour (49%).

Given food production accounts for a significant share of greenhouse gas emissions the EIB explored what the attitudes to various measures would be.

It found to help people make more sustainable choices when grocery shopping, 79% of Europeans are in favour of labelling all food products with their climate footprint (17 percentage points more than Americans, with 62%, but 9 percentage points less than Chinese people, with 88%).

In addition, 62% of Europeans say they would be willing to pay slightly more for food that is produced locally and more sustainably (close to Americans, with 60%, but 21 percentage points below Chinese people, with 83%). This willingness to pay more for food spans all income groups (60% of lower-income respondents, 61% of middle-income respondents and 65% of higher-income respondents).

Reducing the consumption of meat and dairy products would be another efficient way to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Just over half of Europeans (51%) would be in favour of limiting the amount of meat and dairy products that people can buy to fight climate change (11 percentage points above Americans, with 40%, but well below Chinese people, with 73%).

EIB vice-president Ambroise Fayolle said: “The outcome of the EIB Climate Survey shows that Europeans are willing to help fight climate change at the individual level. As the EU climate bank, we welcome this commitment. It complements our role of financing green services such as sustainable transport, renewable energy and energy-efficient buildings.”

“In 2022, we supported green projects in Europe with investments amounting to €32.4 billion, many of which helped create new jobs. We will continue to support the acceleration of the green transition, one in which everyone can play their part and where no one is left behind.”