Major new study shows overwhelming agreement among Irish public on the threat of climate change and the desire for action

Date released: December 09, 2021


Infographic showing climate change stats

The results of the EPA survey on the Irish people’s beliefs, attitudes, policy preferences and behaviours are emphatic:

  • Irish people are in almost full agreement that climate change is happening and 85% are worried about it.
  • 91% of people say climate change is important to them personally and (79%) say climate change should be either a “very high” or “high” priority for the Government of Ireland.
  • Irish people strongly support a range of policies to address climate change. People also think that climate action will increase jobs, economic growth and quality of life (78%).
  • Scientists, experts and the EPA are very highly trusted sources of information about climate change.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has today published the first report from its Climate Change in the Irish Mind project. This work was undertaken by EPA and the Yale University Program on Climate Change Communication (its academic partner) in support of the National Dialogue on Climate Action. The project aims to develop a better understanding of the Irish population by conducting a baseline study of public climate change beliefs, risk perceptions, policy preferences, and behaviour of the Irish public to climate change.

The project will deliver three key outputs: 1) A Climate Change in the Irish Mind report; 2) A segmentation report and 3) an online interactive map. 

Today’s report “Climate Change in the Irish Mind” is based on a nationally representative survey of more than 4000 people during the summer of 2021, conducted by the survey research firm Behaviours and Attitudes.

Speaking about the report Laura Burke, Director General EPA said:

“The findings of this report are definitive. This is an important first step in a very valuable project that will help to understand how Irish people perceive the environmental challenge, and that can fundamentally change how we all communicate on the topic. The findings of the survey clearly demonstrate that the Irish people overwhelmingly recognise the threat, feel personally affected and want to see real change. It demonstrates that - as a country - we are ready for the transition to climate neutrality and resilience, people see the benefits to themselves and Ireland in general and many are already advanced on the journey.”

This is the first study of its kind to be undertaken in Ireland using Yale’s internationally recognised approach. The project will deliver three key outputs: 1) Climate Change in the Irish Mind report; 2) Segmentation report and 3) an online interactive map. The findings will be used to support climate change awareness and engagement campaigns, the design of national policy and climate action.

There are very high levels of awareness of climate change amongst the Irish population, people are informed and understand the implications of a changing climate. They see that opportunities exist for jobs, innovation and wellbeing in taking climate action.

Speaking about the report, the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD said;

“The cornerstone of the National Dialogue for Climate Action (NDCA) is to engage and empower everyone in society to transition towards a climate neutral economy in a way that is fair, just, and accessible.  This research shows that Irish people are well informed and understand and support the need for climate action. The research programme will provide valuable insights as we develop policies and initiatives that will support people as we make this transition together.”

People want the government to act by developing climate friendly policy. They are also willing to change their political and consumption behaviours but to a lesser degree.  This demonstrates that people are aware of the systems changes that are required to effect change and they are also aware of their own responsibilities to act. This points to the need for more behavioural insights as to what supports people need to affect change.

Dr. Anthony Leiserowitz, Director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication said:

“The Irish people overwhelmingly accept the findings of climate science and strongly support a whole-of-society response. They are ready for a national dialogue on climate action and primed to lead the world by their example.”



The ‘Climate Change in the Irish Mind’ project is a baseline study of the Irish population’s beliefs, attitudes, policy preferences, and behaviours regarding climate change.

This work was undertaken by EPA and our academic partner Yale Program on Climate Change Communications (YPCCC) in support of the National Dialogue on Climate Action.

The approach to the project is based on the established methodology of the “Climate Change in the American Mind” survey conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Centre for Climate Change Communication, which was tailored to meet Ireland’s particular socio/economic context.

This is the first nationally representative survey of its kind in Ireland.

The data in this report are based on a representative survey of 4,000 residents of the Republic of Ireland, aged 18 and older. The survey was conducted 24 May to 29 July 2021. All questionnaires were administered by call agents using computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) software. The survey took, on average, 25 minutes to complete.

Survey respondents were recruited using a random digit dial sample of live Irish telephone numbers. About 80% of survey respondents were reached through mobile phone numbers and 20% through landline phone numbers. A total of 84,961 numbers were dialled and 4,030 interviews were completed (including 30 pilot interviews to test survey wording and timing), for a response rate of 5%. Gender, age, work status, and region quotas were used to ensure sample representativeness. Key demographic variables were also weighted, post survey, to match Central Statistics Office norms.

The survey was fielded by Behaviour & Attitudes.

The next report in this series, will focus on a segmentation of the Irish population and is expected in Quarter 1 of 2022.

Full details of the Climate Change in the Irish Mind report, together with an infographic which identifies some of the key findings, can be found on the EPA website.