Irish people want to live more sustainably – but only half of us willing to pay for it

Irish people want to live more sustainably – but only half of us willing to pay for it

Just 48% want to pay more for greener home heating, and 44% would pay extra for greener electricity. Picture: Dan Linehan

Irish people on the whole want to live in a more environmentally sustainable way – but half draw the line at paying more for greener energy.

Those are some of the findings of AIB's new-year sustainability report, which found that 67% said they would be likely to reduce their packaging and single-use plastics, with almost half wanting more sustainable food options from their supermarket.

Some 53% of 1,000 people surveyed said sustainability had become more important to them since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

More than a third said they were already being personally affected by climate change, while another 36% said they expected to be impacted in the next 10 years.

Despite these findings, half of Irish people are not willing to pay more for more sustainable energy.

Some 48% said they would be willing to pay a little more for greener home heating and 44% willing to pay a little more for greener electricity, but the other half said they would not be willing to pay more for these utilities.

Increases to the carbon tax would be supported by half of those surveyed, with 44% against the idea.

In relation to evidence of the climate crisis, while 94% believe human activity is having a negative impact on the planet, just 56% believe that human activity is mainly responsible for climate change. 

More than four in five think collective effort is more important than individual behaviour when it comes to tackling climate change.

The AIB data comes in the wake of findings from the International Energy Agency (IEA), which calculated that the rebound in the global economy would drive a short-lived rebound in coal demand.

There is little sign that the world’s coal consumption is set to decline substantially in the coming years, with rising demand in some Asian economies offsetting declines elsewhere, the IEA said in its December report.

"As coal is by far the single largest source of global energy-related carbon emissions, the trends outlined in the report pose a major challenge to efforts to put those emissions on a path compatible with reaching climate and sustainable energy goals," the IEA said.

Coal demand plunged by 5% in 2020 on the economic fallout from Covid-19, adding to the almost 2% drop in 2019.

“The Covid-19 crisis has completely reshaped global coal markets. Before the pandemic, we expected a small rebound in coal demand in 2020, but we have since witnessed the largest drop in coal consumption since the Second World War,” said Keisuke Sadamori, the IEA’s director of Energy Markets and Security. 

“The decline would have been even steeper without the strong economic rebound in China – the world’s largest coal consumer – in the second half of the year.”

The IEA report forecasts a 2.6% rise in global coal demand in 2021, driven by higher electricity demand and industrial output. Europe may also see its first increases in coal consumption in nearly a decade, the agency said.

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