Public awareness and behaviour
This indicator is no longer being regularly updated
Assessment made on 01 Oct 2004
ClassificationTransport (Primary theme)
- TERM 040
Policy issue: Raise public awareness and knowledge and improve transport behaviour
The public's general level of environmental concern is somewhat lower than a decade ago, though the level of concern remains very high. Close to half of the population indicates to be "very worried" about climate change, air pollution, and water pollution. The same study also reported that almost 9 in 10 Europeans (86%) would like to see the environment given as high a priority as economic and social policies. Concern for the environmental effects of transport is significant. The main perceived problems that are transport-related are the amount of traffic, air pollution (40 %) and, to a lesser extent, damage to the landscape and noise. This is confirmed by findings of surveys in Belgium, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
The level of concern varies greatly among the member states and is generally the lowest in Northwest Europe. Curiously, only in Sweden and Denmark were protecting the environment one of the top three most cited political priorities (EEIG, 2004). Environmental awareness itself does not automatically lead to the desired changes in mobility behaviour. For example, a German survey showed that the everyday life of those people who proved to be the most environmentally aware (one third of the population) is not at all sustainable (Schauer, 2000):
- 74 % went by car or by air for their last holidays;
- 54 % owned a car;
- 37 % used it last weekend;
- 39 % did not care about saving hot water.
Changing lifestyle in general often requires sacrifices of comfort and convenience that deter people from changing behaviour. Where these sacrifices are perceived to be great (such as reduced accessibility from giving up cars) we should not expect to see dramatic differences in behaviour. Researchers estimated the overall correlation coefficient between awareness and environment friendly behaviour at only 0.15. This finding seems to be valid irrespective of gender, education or wealth.
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe's environment.
PDF generated on 23 Oct 2016, 05:19 PM