Irish public increasingly worried by threat of extreme weather events

Some 80% of Irish people trust scientists, EPA, and environmental NGOs on climate change

Irish people continue to have very high awareness of climate change but are increasingly worried by extreme weather events linked to global warming, according to the latest Climate Change in the Irish Mind poll.

Conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency with Yale University, it finds 81 per cent of people are concerned about climate change and 75 per cent think extreme weather poses a moderate or high risk to their community over the next 10 years, with increases in worry in relation to severe storms (74 per cent) and extreme heat (54 per cent).

It finds there has been a large increase in people who hear about climate change in the media once a week or more often (73 per cent), while the issue is regularly a part of their conversation.

Undertaken in support of the Government’s national dialogue on climate action, it shows broad consistency with 2021 findings, including continued high level of climate awareness (95 per cent), acceptance of human causation (92 per cent) and the personal importance (89 per cent) of climate change.


Nearly all Irish people (95 per cent) think climate change is happening. More than half (53 per cent) say climate change is mostly human-caused and another 39 per cent say it is caused about equally by human activities and natural changes – though the latter is not the case.

While it indicates knowledge gaps, more than 80 per cent of people trust scientists, the EPA, educators, family and friends, television weather forecasters and environmental NGOs on the topic of climate change.

There has been an increase people who reported hearing weekly about climate change in the media from 51 per cent in 2021 to 74 per cent. This is aligned with high levels of public trust in mainstream media (68 per cent) and in journalists (68 per cent) on the topic.

EPA director general Laura Burke said: “We know that Ireland is experiencing the impacts of climate change. These findings highlight Irish people are aware of these impacts and are worried about the harm it may cause. People are engaged with this issue, talking about it with their friends and families and hearing about it frequently in the media.”

“Despite the many challenges, including cost of living increases, people remain positive about the benefits of climate action for our economy and quality of life,” she said.

There continues to be majority support for a range of climate policies, she said. “In particular, we see overwhelming support for improved public transport and renewable energy, which can deliver significant emissions reductions, air quality improvements as well as delivering cost savings for individuals.”

A large majority of Irish people (79 per cent) say climate should be either a “very high” or “high” priority for Government. In addition, a majority of people in Ireland believe climate action will provide opportunities to create new jobs (56 per cent) and improved quality of life (74 per cent).

While still receiving majority support, two policies – “higher taxes on cars that use petrol or diesel”, and “banning peat, coal, and oil for home heating” – received significantly weaker support from those who had experienced economic difficulties.

However, the findings show those who reported economic difficulties in the past year expressed the same levels of worry and feelings of personal importance about climate change as those who experienced no difficulties.

The findings are encouraging, said Minister for Environment and Climate Eamon Ryan. “It confirms Irish people have a good understanding of the complex issues of climate change, that they are concerned about its effects on their lives, but importantly that they believe that taking climate action can make our country more resilient, creating jobs and improving our quality of life,” he said.

It suggests “climate is not an issue that divides people as much as it unites us. It also underlines the importance of ongoing engagement and communications”, he said.

“As a Government, we must listen and act so that we are supporting people to take climate action that works for their community – from the ground up. Climate action won’t work if it’s a top-down, blame or shame approach. Our transition to a new way of doing things must be fair, it must involve everyone and it must ensure that things will be better.”

The poll of 1,330 adults and was carried out by Behaviour & Attitudes between August and October, 2023.

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times