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In all fairness: perceptions of climate policies and the green transition in the Nordic Region
Nordic Council of Ministers, Nordregio.
Nordic Council of Ministers, Nordregio.
Nordic Council of Ministers, Nordregio.
Nordic Council of Ministers, Nordregio.
Number of Authors: 3
Responsible organisation
2023 (English)Report (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The survey presented in this report reveals that Nordic citizens are concerned about climate change. Many people are willing to increase efforts to fight climate change, even if this entails a personal contribution in terms of higher taxes or behavioural change. The survey shows that different social groups perceive the impacts of climate change and climate mitigation policies in different ways. In general, attitudes towards climate policies and perceptions regarding their fairness are conditioned by socio-demographic factors such as gender, age, employment status, type of housing and transport behaviour.

General attitudes towards climate change and climate policies

The first part of this report explores general attitudes towards climate change and climate policies. This section shows that seven in ten (71%) respondents think that climate change is a serious or very serious problem, particularly among the youngest age group (18-29 years). Three in four (74%) interviewed persons in this group share this view. Those with a university degree are more concerned about climate change (83%) than those with primary or secondary education (57% and 62%, respectively). Approximately half (48-51%) of respondents in all age groups agree that more financial resources should be invested in preventing climate change, even if this would imply an increase in taxes.

The survey results show that women in the Nordic Region are more concerned about climate change than men (79% compared to 64%). It also reveals that people living in urban areas are more worried about climate change (82%) than those who live in towns and suburbs (68%) or in rural areas (62%). Urban dwellers are also more positive about investing more resources in preventing climate change (59%) than those who live in rural areas (39%) and in towns and suburbs (46%).

More than half of the respondents (52%) agree that taking further action on climate change would be beneficial for the economy. Students, unemployed and retired people are more likely to agree with this view (55%, 57% and 55%, respectively) than those currently in employment, including the self-employed (50%). Those employed in carbon-intensive sectors are less positive about the expected economic impact of climate policies than those who work in other economic sectors (41% compared to 55%). They are also more concerned about the risk of job losses during the transition to a low-carbon economy than those employed in sectors with lower carbon intensity (37% compared to 24%). Concerns about this issue are also higher among those who live in rural areas (31%) or towns and suburbs (30%) compared to those who live in cities (22%).

Present and future effects of climate change mitigation policies on individuals and households

The central part of the survey explores perceptions regarding the present and future impacts of climate policies. Such challenges are perceived differently depending on specific sociodemographic conditions. Nearly one fourth (23%) of respondents state that high energy costs mean they are struggling to keep their homes at a comfortable temperature. Those living in houses report being more impacted (27%) than those living in apartments (18%), and those using fossil fuels to heat their homes are most affected (44%). The risk of energy poverty is also higher among non-EU immigrants to the Nordic Region. Those who say they are struggling to keep their homes at a comfortable temperature range from 23% among Nordic-born citizens to 37% among non-EU immigrants. Nearly three in ten respondents (28%) have modified their transportation behaviour during the last year due to high fuel costs. This proportion is substantially greater among those living in towns and suburbs (32%) compared to those who live in rural areas (29%) or cities (23%).

The majority of the Nordic population (52%) states that current climate policies have a neutral effect on their household economies. However, 28% of respondents say they are negatively impacted by climate policies in economic terms. Men report being negatively affected more frequently than women (33% vs 22%, respectively). People who live in houses are more likely to claim they are being negatively impacted than people who live in apartments (31% and 23%, respectively).

Nearly half (45%) of the respondents in the Nordic Region agree that climate initiatives will improve health and well-being, and half of the respondents (50%) think that climate change initiatives will lead to more sustainable lifestyles in their area. However, half (51%) of the Nordic population expect to see increases in prices and the cost of living as a consequence of climate policies, and those who believe that climate policies will create jobs and improve working conditions in the areas where they live (31% and 24%, respectively) are outnumbered by those who believe the opposite (35% and 34%, respectively).

Fairness of climate policies

The last section of the report looks at how the Nordic people perceive the fairness of climate policies in distributional terms. In the survey, the respondents were asked to judge to what extent they agree or disagree that everyone in their country or territory is equally affected by initiatives to fight climate change regardless of personal earnings, gender, age, country of origin and where they live – cities or rural areas. The results show that the Nordic people believe climate change 88 initiatives affect citizens in different ways depending on their demographic, socioeconomic and territorial backgrounds.

More than half of the respondents (56%) disagree that everyone is equally affected by initiatives to fight climate change regardless of earnings. Only 22% agree with this statement. Younger age groups are more pessimistic than older age groups on this point (66% in the 18-29 age group compared to 41% in the 65+ group). Almost half of respondents (48%) agree that climate policies are fair from a gender perspective, while 25% disagree with this statement and 23% are neutral.

Roughly one in three (30%) respondents in the Nordic Region agree that people are equally affected by climate change initiatives regardless of age, 41% disagree with this statement and 25% are neutral. More than one third (35%) of the Nordic population agree that everyone is equally affected by initiatives to fight climate change regardless of the country of origin, while 34% of them disagree. More than half of respondents (56%) think that the impact of climate initiatives differs between rural and urban areas, while only 22% think that all areas are equally affected. Respondents who live in cities are more likely to respond that climate policy impacts differ between rural and urban areas (60%) than respondents who live in rural areas (55%) and towns and suburbs (53%). One third (33%) of respondents in the survey think that the Sámi population is affected by climate change initiatives to the same extent as the rest of the population. In Greenland, a majority of the population (62%) agrees that the indigenous population in Greenland is equally affected by measures to combat climate change.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Nordregio , 2023. , p. 104
Series
Nordregio Report, ISSN 1403-2503 ; 2023:5
Keywords [en]
green transition, climate mitigation policy
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Nordic Climate solutions; Environment and Climate
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:norden:org:diva-12846DOI: 10.6027/R2023:5.1403-2503ISBN: 978-91-8001-057-3 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:norden-12846DiVA, id: diva2:1757105
Available from: 2023-05-15 Created: 2023-05-15 Last updated: 2023-06-07

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