Study of environmental perceptions of Europeans

The nature of environmental challenges has changed considerably in recent decades. Nonetheless, the global nature of environmental problems has long been known, as issues such as pollution, loss of biodiversity, global warming, ozone depletion and tropical deforestation do not respect international borders. One can argue, however, that it is only in recent years that these problems have become widespread matters of concern among the general public. The issue of climate change was at the forefront of the debate on global environmental problems in 2007.

This culminated in the 2007 Nobel Peace Price being awarded to advocates for change in this area, namely the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the environmental activist Al Gore 'for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change'.

Two tendencies can be linked to this phenomenon. Firstly, there is an ever greater need for a global response to global problems. This is already underway in numerous international environmental agreements and legislation. Secondly, citizens are becoming more aware of both the potential effects of these problems in their daily lives and the role they could play in protecting their environment.

In this context, the Environment Directorate-General decided to commission a public opinion survey to measure the opinions, attitudes and behaviour of Europeans towards the environment. The survey was carried out in the 27 member States of the European Union between the 13th November and 14th of December 20071. Nearly 27,000 respondents were interviewed face-to-face at their homes in their national languages.

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