Europeans’ Lifestyle Shifts to Mitigate Climate Change

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Climate adaptation platform Lifestyle Shifts that Europeans are Willing to Make to Address Climate Change

Worrying about climate change and making some lifestyle changes to mitigate it are two different things.

Human beings are hardwired to avoid threats or act to protect themselves from them. But when it comes to climate change, why is it so hard to motivate people, let alone change their behaviour, to mitigate climate change?

The Harvard Business Review suggests that people are not so inclined to change their actions because they think climate change’s effects are distant compared, for example, to a grizzly bear that may be curiously wandering in your front yard. Another factor is the uncertainty about the future impacts of climate change if you live in the most vulnerable regions in the world constantly experiencing climate change effects.

Climate inaction or even ignoring climate change also has benefits. Individuals don’t have to switch to more expensive electric cars, make their homes energy-efficient, eat less meat and shift to plant-based diets. Companies do not have to reduce their carbon footprint to continue manufacturing cheap products or switch to a renewable energy source, which is usually more expensive. Governments can save money by not needing to invest in green options now, even if it means becoming cost-effective in the long run.

A YouGov survey conducted in seven European countries shows that although respondents are alarmed by the climate crises, they are less willing to support government policies if they entail significant lifestyle changes. The survey conducted between April 5 and 19, 2022, asked about 1,000 respondents from the UK, France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Spain, and Italy regarding their willingness to change their lifestyles and support government policies to address climate change.

Regarding lifestyle changes, respondents were asked how willing they are to do the following: eating only fruits and vegetables that are in season, not buying products made from single-use plastic, switching to electric cars, covering costs to make their home energy-efficient, paying more for flights to offset its environmental impact, walk, cycle, or use public transport, not to eat meat or dairy products, and have fewer children.

And when it comes to government policies, respondents were asked if they are willing to support the following: commitment to planting more trees, government subsidies to make their homes energy-efficient, stricter regulations on product packaging, banning single-use plastic, frequent flyer levy, banning the sale and production of fossil-fuelled cars, increase tax that motorist pay for fuel fuels.

Generally, a high percentage of respondents from all seven countries, ranging from 60% to 81%, with Italy having the highest number of respondents, are worried about climate change.

But the level of support for each measure to tackle climate change varies depending on the lifestyle changes it requires from the respondents. A high percentage of respondents – between 40% to 75%- from all countries support eating fruits and vegetables that are in season and not buying products made of single-use plastic. Spain is at the top of this list.

There is moderate support when switching to electric cars – ranging between 24% to 55%, with Germany having the lowest percentage of respondents and Italy the highest. Regarding giving up driving in favour of cycling, walking, or using public transport, 35%, 44%, and 40% of respondents from France, Span, and Italy, respectively, said they are willing to do so. But when asked whether they would support banning fossil-fueled cars entirely, more than 60% of respondents from Germany and France opposed the idea.

There is also a more positive response for government subsidies to make their homes energy-intensive, ranging from 86% in Spain to 67% in Germany compared to covering the costs personally – Germany at 19% and Spain at 40%.

Read the YouGov Survey Results by clicking the link in the “Source” section below.


YouGov/Eurotrack Survey Result. (2022). YouGov. Retrieved from

Henley, J. (2023, May 2). Many Europeans want climate action – but less so if it changes their lifestyle, shows poll. The Guardian. Retrieved from

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