Dutch now much more concerned about climate

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Never before has the Netherlands spoken out so strongly about protecting the climate. According to a recent survey, a massive 80 percent now say the country must reduce its impact on the environment, with over half stating they were prepared to change their own travel behaviour to meet that goal. 39 percent cited Covid-19 as the reason for their concern.

The results of the survey conducted jointly by Ipsos and ABN AMRO coincide with the publication of the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency’s (PBL) annual Energy Outlook, which asserts that we are far from on course to meet climate targets.

Under the Climate Agreement, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 49 percent by 2030. However, if the Dutch continue to consume, travel and produce as they currently do, the Netherlands will fall short, with a projected decrease of just 34 percent in 2030 relative to 1990. As a result, behavioural change is urgently needed.

Covid-19 seems to be having a positive effect here. Partly because of the unprecedented personal, social and economic consequences of the crisis, a larger percentage of the population than ever before have stated that they believe the climate is important and that they are prepared to act accordingly.

A similar survey (conducted by ABN AMRO and Ipsos in May 2020) reported an increased urgency compared to the year before, but the current rate of 80 percent is exceptionally high. A willingness among participants to permanently change their own travel behaviour has also grown since May.

Wake-up call

39 percent of respondents attributed their increased environmental awareness to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. And indeed, no fewer than 34 percent said they saw the pandemic as a wake-up call to climate change.

Over 40 percent also said they wanted to live in a society in which people consider their fellow citizens’ financial and personal welfare. 85 percent said they thought such consideration was the exception before the crisis hit, and that shareholder value and personal gain had been the prime concern.

Fundamental debate

The coronavirus crisis has resulted in a fundamental debate on the economic system both in and outside the Netherlands. Welfare is about more than earning a high salary. Those who spend all day at home enjoy living closer to nature. And a person’s health – according to figures from Statistics Netherlands (CBS) – is also an important measure of well-being. According to the ABN AMRO and Ipsos survey, more people are now worried about their own health and that of their family and friends. Of all the respondents, 77 percent were afraid of falling ill with Covid-19, while 89 percent feared their loved ones would contract the dreaded virus.

The report can be downloaded from ABN AMRO Insights (Dutch only).

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