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24 Jan 2022

Survey shows 44 per cent of public want climate change to be a priority

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful calls on Derry to discover city's level of environmental awareness

Survey shows 44 per cent of public want climate change to be a priority

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful Chief Executive Dr Ian Humphreys: "There has never been a more pressing time to explore and understand public engagement with environmental issues."

As the results from the 2021 Environmental Engagement Index survey reveal that 44 per cent of those surveyed want the government to prioritise climate change, environmental charity, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful is encouraging people across Derry to make their first steps towards leading a greener lifestyle by completing the survey.

The Index was developed in a collaboration between the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful (KNIB), Queens University Belfast (QUB) and the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), all of whom are encouraging members of the public to take the online survey.

An annual, rolling online survey, which is supplemented by an annual omnibus survey, the Environmental Engagement Index (EEI) gives people in NI an opportunity to express their feelings about nature and the environment, along with the direction they’d like to see environmental policies taking in the future.

It also helps people to recognise whether they should be leading a more environmentally friendly lifestyle by asking them to rate their agreement with statements such as: “I always think my actions affect the environment,” or “My connection to nature and the environment is part of my spirituality”.

The survey’s latest results reveal important insights, showing that pollution was ranked the second most important environmental issue by 17 per cent of those surveyed, whilst reducing car usage and home energy consumption present the biggest hurdles in terms of environmental lifestyle changes (28 per cent and 26 per cent respectively).

Other insights demonstrate that inconvenience is considered a barrier to adopting green lifestyle habits by 18 per cent of those surveyed. Conversely, the number of people who find cost to be the main barrier has decreased by seven per cent since 2020.

Edwin Poots, Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs said: “I am delighted to see the number of people in Northern Ireland who see climate change as a priority has increased in the last year, but we can still do more.

“I have prioritised climate change by committing resources to bring forward an evidence based and science-led Executive Climate Change Bill which will require all NI departments to deliver action in the fight against climate change.

“I have also prioritised the development of a cross-cutting Executive Green Growth Strategy which will map out the actions we must take to meet sector-specific greenhouse gas emission reduction targets which will deliver a cleaner environment, more efficient use of our resources within a circular economy and will provide more green jobs.”

The Minister added: “I want everyone to understand how our actions can have an impact on the environment around us. I would urge everyone to go online and take the Environmental Engagement Index survey and then look at what changes you can make to your everyday life to help protect our environment and combat climate change.”

Research has shown that engaging with nature motivates people to look after the environment. Anyone who completes the Environmental Engagement Index will also be able to compare their own ‘engagement score’ with that of friends and family as well as the Northern Ireland average.

It is hoped that, in the coming years, as more and more citizens complete the online survey, the Environmental Engagement Index will become a valuable source of information, tracking changing attitudes over time.

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful Chief Executive, Dr Ian Humphreys said: “In the wake of COP26, climate change is an extremely important topic and there has never been a more pressing time to explore and understand public engagement with environmental issues.

“It is critical that we hear the views of the public in Northern Ireland, to find out how relevant environmental issues are to their lives. We want everyone to have the chance to be part of the future. The survey only takes five minutes to complete anonymously, and I would encourage everyone to take the time to do so.”

Completing the survey only takes a few minutes and there is no requirement to submit any personal details other than a postcode.

As well as directing participants to the survey, the app can also identify some great places in their local area so that they can discover new ways to enjoy our beautiful natural environment.

The Environmental Engagement Index web application can be located either via the Live Here Love Here website or at: https://eei.liveherelovehere.app/

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