Over one third of people surveyed are willing to eat less meat, while 47% are willing to plant a tree to make a positive climate action impact

11 November 2019: As part of its annual Science Week, Science Foundation Ireland commissioned iReach Insights to investigate the Irish public’s understanding and awareness of climate change. The focus for Science Week 2019 is on climate action – providing accurate, scientific context to the current state of the world’s changing climate and the actions needed to mitigate this change. The research also gathered insights into what the public are willing to do to make a positive climate impact and what they feel are the biggest impacts they can make as individuals.

The research revealed that 88% of respondents believe that the earth is getting warmer as a result of climate change. The majority of survey participants (86%) agreed that climate change was mostly due to human activity – highest amongst younger age groups of 18 - 34-year olds at 91%.  However, when asked about the current level of information provided on climate action, almost half of those surveyed (49%) feel that the information on climate action is confusing and unclear.

Prof Mark Ferguson, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said: “Climate change is the biggest crisis facing humanity today. Climate disruption is already having diverse and wide-ranging impacts on Ireland's environment, society, economic and natural resources. It is changing where people, plants and animals can safely live, and the recent media and policy focus on climate emergency and action is to be welcomed.”

He continued: “As part of Science Week 2019, we are seeking to help people understand climate change, how science and technology can help us create a positive climate future and the impact we as individuals can have on climate change. Given that a significant majority of our research respondents stated that they find information on climate action confusing, we hope to provide research-based information and solutions as part of Science Week 2019.  Reducing plastics is only one of a multitude of actions required, we need to widen the engagement with the public in relation to solutions to greenhouse emission and climate action.”

When it comes to making a positive climate change, the top change respondents are willing to make is using reusable drinking bottles, coffee cups or shopping bags (74%), followed by reducing food waste (73%) and unplugging electronics when not in use (69%).  Over one-third (36%) are willing to eat less meat but only 10% of people surveyed are willing to eat entirely plant based diets, with those aged between 18 – 34 more willing to do so at 17%.

Respondents across all demographics stated that they believed they could make the biggest personal impact on climate action by using energy efficient products in their home (55%), using reusable drinking or shopping bags (49%) and making an attempt to cycle, walk or using public transport (49%). 

Running from 10-17 November, Science Week will bring science and climate action to the fore of the public’s minds through fun, engaging and interactive events.