3E Intelligence

Last week, two interesting surveys confirmed that citizens are worried about climate change but once they start acting as consumers others have to shoulder the bill. Especially young people are not willing to make lifestyle sacrifices.

On Thursday 11 September, EU Commissioners Wallström and Dimas excelled in spinning the latest Eurobarometer on climate change. Although the survey showed a lot of depressing results, they managed to sell to the media their message that EU citizens support the Commission’s “ambitious” climate-energy” policy. “Strong public support for EU targets on climate change” was the jubilant title of the Commission’s press release. Of course, they had to acknowledge that “a significant proportion of people feel poorly informed” about the issue. Does this mean that they are willing to admit that their million-euro “You control climate change” campaign has been a failure?

Most Europeans think the climate change crisis can be solved but are not ready to pay too much for it. They feel that it is not for them but for governments, companies and industries to shoulder the costs of tackling the problem. Can we expect a different attitude when governments as well as green NGOs still lack the courage to tell our citizens the full truth (that the era of cheap fossil-fuel-based abundance is coming to an end and that therefore the party is over)?

The IPod/XBox-generation of 17- to 24-year olds will have an even more difficult time dealing with this new age of scarcity. According to a recent survey by market researcher TNS and Shell, these young people still aspire to the old sixties aspirations (“we want the world and we want it now” – The Doors). They still want a great job, a big house, worldwide travel and “flying cars”. I hardly dare to imagine how this last “abundance” generation is going to react once the climate/energy catastrophes really kick in and what this will mean for our fragile democracies which are already cracking up under the stress of lacking political legitimacy?

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  1. In 2007 the BBC poll was very upbeat about people’s changing attitudes and willingness to pay for a greener energy. However, by 2008 it turned out that less than 2% of the British households are willing to pay de facto >for a greener energy. And of course the radical green movement started to undermine the scheme anyway.

  2. It is true that the so called iPod generation will be very resilient when it comes to climate change.
    Even though I am 23 years old and I believe every one of us should commit in this respect, only European studies and political science majors understand these things.
    So what I am saying is that the Commission was so inefficient in connecting with its public that we could only walk the walk with university graduates.
    The public is uninformed and EU is too hard to decipher to make this message clear.

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