Most Europeans plan to fly less, eat less meat to fight climate change: EU poll

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A majority of European citizens intend to fly less and already eat less meat to help fight climate change, according to a survey published by the European Investment Bank (EIB) on Monday.

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Of 27,700 survey respondents in the EU’s 27 countries, 74 percent of respondents said they intended to fly less frequently for environmental reasons, once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. That included 43 percent of respondents who said they would do this “all the time” and 31 percent who said they would “from time to time.”

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Europe’s aviation sector is under scrutiny from customers and regulators over its carbon footprint, at the same time that airlines battle a slump in demand due to the pandemic.

Asked if they planned to choose trains over planes for short-haul trips, 71 percent of respondents in the EIB survey said they do.

In the poll, conducted in October-November 2020, 66 percent of Europeans said they already eat less meat to fight climate change and a further 13 percent said they planned to do so soon.

COVID-19 lockdowns meant global CO2 emissions dropped in 2020 compared with recent years, but it still ranked as the joint-hottest on record -- underscoring the need for faster action to slash emissions to avoid locking in catastrophic future warming.

The EU is drafting a major package of new policies to curb pollution, including measures such as renovating buildings to use less energy, forcing carmakers to meet tougher emissions standards and levying higher carbon costs on factories.

Brussels also aims to help consumers make sustainable choices. The EU aims to have 3 million public electric car charging points by 2030. A ban on single-use plastic straws and cutlery takes effect this year.

“Citizens feel the impacts of climate change and they want the climate crisis to be addressed with unprecedented action,” EIB Vice President Ambroise Fayolle said.

The EIB, the EU’s lending arm, could help people adopt environmentally-friendly habits by financing clean energy and low-carbon transport, Fayolle said.