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Main Findings

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Water Pollution of more concern to households than Climate Change

Some of the main findings from the survey are:

  • 79% of households rate water pollution as a very important issue while climate change was a very important concern for 69% (see Table 1)
  • 73% of households support stricter air pollution controls on industry but only 29% support urban traffic restrictions (see Table 3)
  • 69% of rural households have no alternative transport option if road fuel taxes went up 10% (see Table 4)

Figure 1 shows household ratings of the importance of a number of environmental issues. Tables 2A-2H provide a full breakdown of the responses by household characteristics.

Not important at allNot very importantFairly importantVery important
Water pollution011979
Plastic waste022274
Air pollution022572
Climate change132669
Loss of biodiversity032967
Impact on our health of chemicals used in everyday products042966
Flood and storm damage063360
Lack of urban green spaces2113354

The issue that received the highest proportion of very important ratings was water pollution, with 79% of Irish household rating it very important. Plastic waste was a very important environmental concern for 74% of households while 72% rated air pollution as very important. Climate change was rated very important by 69% of households.


Around 60% of urban households and 39% of rural households rated a lack of urban green spaces as a very important issue.

RegionVery important
South-East74
Dublin71
West68
Mid-West65
South-West64
Midland64
Mid-East63
Border63

Households were asked to rate the importance to them of protecting the environment (see Table 2). Figure 2 shows a regional breakdown of households who rated protecting the environment as very important. Households in the South-East were most likely to consider protecting the environment to be very important at 74%, compared with 63% of households in the Border and Mid-East regions.

Air quality measure
Stricter pollution controls on industrial activities73
Provide higher financial incentives for low emission products54
Stricter controls on emissions from transport vehicles35
Provide more information to the public on air pollution33
Introduce traffic restrictions in polluted cities29
Better enforcement of existing air quality legislation27
Apply stricter controls on emissions from residential heating7

When asked which measures would be most effective at tackling problems of air quality, 73% of households supported stricter pollution controls on industrial and energy-production activities. Households were asked to select up to three measures. See Table 3 for a full breakdown of responses by household characteristics.

Higher financial incentives for low emission products were supported by 54% of households, while stricter controls on emissions from transport vehicles was considered one of the most effective measures by 35%. Urban traffic restrictions in polluted cities were supported by 29% of households. Only 7% of households supported stricter controls on emissions from residential heating.

Rural areas Urban areas
Use motor vehicle less frequently in order to save money510
Use motor vehicle to the same extent because able to afford the extra cost511
Use motor vehicle to the same extent because no alternative means of transport6940
Switch to an electric or hybrid vehicle713
Switch to using public transport23
Already use an electric or hybrid vehicle46
Do not use a motor vehicle311

Householders were asked how they would respond if tax on road transport fuels increased by 10% (see Table 4). Responses differed according to whether the household was in an urban or a rural area, with 69% of rural households and 40% of urban households stating that they would not reduce their fuel use as they have no alternative means of transport. In urban areas, 13% said they would consider switching to an electric or hybrid vehicle compared with 7% of rural households.

Response
Would invest in home energy efficiency measures19
Would not make energy efficiency improvements due to the upfront cost31
Would not make energy efficiency changes because able to afford the extra fuel cost6
Would not make energy efficiency changes as home is already very energy-efficient16
Live in rented accommodation20

Householders were also asked how they would respond if tax on home heating fuels increased by 10% (see Table 5). The upfront cost of energy efficiency improvements was considered unaffordable by 31% of households, while 19% stated they would invest in energy-efficiency measures. A further 16% of households considered their home to be already very energy-efficient.

Biodiversity measures
Consider biodiversity concerns in planning new infrastructure62
Increase protected nature areas53
Strengthen existing biodiversity regulations47
Ensure agricultural subsidies do not harm biodiversity42
Allocate more financial resources37

When asked which actions would best protect biodiversity, 62% of households chose ensuring biodiversity concerns are considered in the planning of new infrastructure investments. Households were asked to select three actions. A full breakdown of responses is provided in Table 7. The second most popular action was to increase the area of land where nature is protected, which was supported by 53% of households, while 47% believed that existing nature and biodiversity conservation regulations should be strengthened.

 

This publication is one of four statistical releases based on the CSO General Household Survey Environment module from Quarter 3, 2021. The other three reports cover Visits to Nature Areas; Waste and Recycling; and Energy Use.

Show Table: Table 1: How important are the following environmental issues to you?

Show Table: Table 2: How important is protecting the environment to you personally?

Show Table: Table 2A: How important is the environmental issue of loss of biodiversity to you?

Show Table: Table 2B: How important is the environmental issue of climate change to you?

Show Table: Table 2C: How important is the environmental issue of plastic waste to you?

Show Table: Table 2D: How important is the environmental issue of flood and storm damage to you?

Show Table: Table 2E: How important is the environmental issue of water pollution to you?

Show Table: Table 2F: How important is the environmental issue of air pollution to you?

Show Table: Table 2G: How important is the environmental issue of the impact on our health of chemicals used in everyday products to you?

Show Table: Table 2H: How important is the environmental issue of lack of urban green spaces to you?

Show Table: Table 3: In your opinion, which three of the following are the most effective ways of tackling problems of air quality?

Show Table: Table 4: Which of the following best describes how you would respond if tax on road transport fuels increased by 10%?

Show Table: Table 5: Which of the following best describes how you would respond if tax on home heating fuels increased by 10%?

Show Table: Table 6: How many times, over the course of a typical year, do you fish in the sea around Ireland, either from the shore or in a boat, with a rod and line?

Show Table: Table 7: In your opinion, which three of the following actions would best protect biodiversity?

Go to next chapter: Background Notes