21 Jul 2020, 13:41
Benjamin Wehrmann

Majority of Germans say climate action a priority despite coronavirus challenge

Clean Energy Wire

Climate action remains a priority for most people in Germany even as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic are challenging citizens on many levels, the economic research institutes ZEW and RWI found in a survey of German households. More than 90 percent of the respondents said the topic's importance has remained constant or even increased since the beginning of the year. "This came as a surprise for us, since a large part of the households reports financial losses," said RWI's Manuel Frondel. In the survey conducted among 6,000 households, about half said they suffered a drop in income in the past six months and eight percent said their financial situation had worsened significantly. However, 70 percent also said that climate change remains an "unvaryingly important" issue and 23 percent even said it had grown in importance. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said economic recovery programmes should be linked with climate action, while 37 percent said social aspects are more important than the climate in the crisis. Less than 30 percent of the households answered that boosting the economy should take precedence over environmental considerations, while 62 percent said public money should only be spent on projects that contribute to emissions reduction. "Regarding the topic of purchase premiums for cars with combustion engines, the German government can consider itself backed up by the study's results," the researchers said. 

Even though climate change has been firmly established as a major concern for citizens in Germany in recent years, the coronavirus outbreak in March let it slide on the list of concerns. More than two in three respondents called it the most important problem and climate change was a priority for merely nine percent of those surveyed.  

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