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New polling: Europeans show support for climate and energy targets

  • 11 Jan 2013, 15:00
  • Ros Donald

The European Commission has reported a rise in support for its 2020 targets, including those aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions and increase the supply of renewable energy. 

74 per cent of respondents to the EU's Autumn Eurobarometer survey of public attitudes - out last month - said it was important for the EU to create an economy that "uses less natural resources and emits less greenhouse gas", a one per cent increase since the survey was last taken in Spring 2012.

The survey asks citizens of EU member states what they think of the commission's 2020 targets, which focus on five areas: Employment, research and development, energy and climate change, education and fighting poverty.

According to the results, those surveyed ranked limiting greenhouse gases as the third most important  target, behind modernising the labour market and improving social inclusion.

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Asked which targets they thought were too ambitious and which were "about right" in terms of ambition, respondents ranked improving energy efficiency as the most credible of the targets they were asked about in all five areas, alongside the aim that three-quarters of men and women between 20 and 64 years old should have a job. Fifty-nine per cent of respondents these are the most credible targets of the EU's 2020 package.

Meanwhile, 57 per cent of the respondents believe increasing the share of renewable energy in the EU by 20 per cent by 2020 is credible - putting it in third place. And 55 per cent said it's credible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 per cent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels.

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New UK statistics

Although there's no country-specific data for the EU targets, polling by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in December last year indicates the majority of people are concerned about climate change and want to increase the amount of renewables in the UK energy mix.

According to DECC's public attitudes tracking survey,  65 per cent of those surveyed said they were concerned or very concerned about climate change, for example. On renewable energy, DECC says 79 per cent of people who were asked support using renewable sources of energy to provide electricity, fuel and heat to the UK.

Survey respondents also don't seem too perturbed by the idea - at least in principle - of hosting renewables developments. Asked whether they would be happy to have a large scale renewable development in their area, 55 per cent agreed versus 19 per cent who disagreed.

Unsurprisingly, there's strong support for moves to ensure communities living near these developments benefit directly from hosing them - 78 per cent agreed with that statement. The government still hasn't enacted plans to get renewables companies to offer specific benefits to host communities near renewables developments. If it does, it'll be interesting to see whether support for renewables changes as a result.

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