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More than 90% of people in Spain are certain that climate change is already happening

More than 90% of people in Spain are certain that climate change is already happening

A new Veolia-led survey outlines public concerns about the environmental crisis and acceptance of solutions to address it

María G. Astorga


Friday, 28 June 2024, 18:20

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There's no escaping the fact that the planet is in a climate crisis. Every time we turn on the TV, read a newspaper or switch on the radio the news is full of the climate emergency. It has become one of, if not the biggest global challenge.

Countries that have historically been the most vulnerable (low GDP, difficult access to essential services such as water, etc.) and developed countries that have long felt "safe", protected by their economic development and infrastructures, are now united by the same fear. None of us are exempt from climate change. 92% of people in Spain are certain that climate change is already happening and 78% feel vulnerable to the risks posed by climate change or pollution.

This increased concern reflects a growing awareness of the impact it is having on our lives, from altered weather patterns to risks to public health and food safety. As in most countries in the world, women and young people (18-35 years old) feel more exposed and vulnerable to the health threat. 13 points higher than the global average (65%), Spain's environmental and climate insecurity is the highest in Europe, comparable to levels in Italy, Latin America and South and South-East Asia, which have the highest levels of perceived vulnerability.

"Our planet has just endured a season of simmering - the hottest summer on record. Climate breakdown has begun"

What are the psychological, economic and cultural brakes to adopting green solutions, how are the trade-offs between the cost of action and the cost of inaction, are we ready to bear or accept the cost of ecological transformation and what are the goals and benefits that for people to make the transition, are some of the questions answered in the second Green Transformation Barometer published by Veolia in partnership with Elabe. Based on three main axes: decarbonisation, decontamination and resource regeneration.

Environmental regulation is dividing and polarising public opinion. Across the world, there are calls for "pragmatism" to pit social policy and ecological action against each other, to evaluate the consequences of the climate crisis and to call for an "environmental pause".

Despite the fact that global warming is accelerating. "Our planet has just endured a season of simmering - the hottest summer on record. Climate breakdown has begun," says UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. So society's growing acceptance of green solutions is an important step towards curbing climate change.

Environmental solutions

In terms of solutions to tackle climate change, Spanish citizens show a remarkable acceptance of measures that combine self-sufficiency and technology. For example, 68% believe that acting against climate change will cost less than doing nothing and living with the consequences, a perception that is slightly higher than the global average of 66% and the European average of 64%. Furthermore, 58% believe that a combination of technology and self-sufficiency is needed to limit climate change and pollution, compared to 53% in the rest of Europe.

One of the main concerns of people is the preservation of water resources. Eighty-one percent of the population would be willing to pay a little more for water in order to regenerate it and reduce the risk of depletion, which is more than the 78% of Europeans who share this opinion.

This is closely followed by public health related to climate change. Seventy-five percent of Spaniards feel exposed and vulnerable to health problems, compared to 65% of Europeans. Of these, 79% are concerned about risks related to infectious diseases. Moreover, almost all Spaniards believe that health is the main concern when making local decisions about water, waste and energy, over and above the price they pay for them.

The results of the barometer show "clearly that people in Spain are ready to act and accept innovative solutions for the adaptation of water resources to the consequences of climate change," says Estelle Brachlianoff, CEO of Veolia. This awareness is "essential for strong and effective collective action. At Veolia, we are committed to leveraging our extensive international experience to accompany the country's ecological transformation and make the most of it to protect the health and quality of life of the Spanish population. Spain is one of the key countries in our new GreenUp strategic plan, which aims to accelerate decarbonisation, decontamination and the regeneration of resources", she concluded.

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