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Climate Change:

What will YOU do?

Northern Ireland Climate


Change Impacts
Partnership

Report of a survey of NI people, politicians and


key decision makers
prepared by Patricia Mackey
Mackey
Sustainable Northern Ireland

January 2009

Climate Change What will YOU do?

There is still time


to avoid the
worst impact of
climate change
if we take strong
action now

Sir Nicholas Stern


STERN REVIEW: The Economics of Climate Change HM Treasury
United Kingdom
30 October 2006

Climate Change What will YOU do?

Contents
Executive Summary

Introduction

Methodology

Section ONE Publics


Publics Opinion

Section TWO MLAs


MLAs Opinion

14

Section THREE
THREE Decision Makers
Makers Opinion

19

Section FOUR Conclusions)


Conclusions)

23

Section FIVE Recommendations

25
The survey was carried out for the Northern
Ireland Climate Change Impacts Partnership
(NICCIP) by Sustainable Northern Ireland in
March and April 2008.
The Northern Ireland Climate Change
Impacts Partnership (NICCIP) is a partnership
consisting of representatives from central and
local government, the business community,
the voluntary sector and professional
organisations.
organisations

Acknowledgements
This survey has been commissioned by
NICCIP and its contents and output aided
by Brendan Forde, Michael McCallion and
Paula McWilliams.
Special thanks are due to Michael Bennet
(Northern Ireland Statistics and
and Research
Agency)
Agency) who painstakingly audited all the
survey
survey data, to Sue Christie (Northern
Ireland Environment Link)
Link) who edited this
report and to the QUB students who
folded, stuffed, franked and mailed 4000
survey forms.

Climate Change What will YOU do?

Executive Summary
Key findings from the survey:

Climate change is one of the most


significant issues facing the world.
Recent scientific research from the
IPCC provides evidence that we need
to act immediately if we are to limit its
impacts at both global and local scales.

This report is based on survey returns


from more than 400
400 members of the
public, 28 MLAs, 26 district councils
and 29 central government
departments and agencies in Northern
Ireland.

The surveys results reveal a high


degree of consensus among each of
the sectors surveyed that climate
change is having an impact
impact in
Northern Ireland, that modifying our
behaviour can make a difference and
that people are willing to make
changes to their lifestyles, especially if
encouraged to do so by strong
government leadership.

The results from the survey suggest


that people
people do accept their
responsibility for doing more, but
that stronger leadership and
detailed guidance from
government is needed. The public,
MLAs, central government and
district councils are all prepared to
play their part but more effective
coco-ordination of
of initiatives is
required.

The survey yielded a number of useful findings


that can be used to determine policy, priorities
and actions to help reduce the severity of the
impact of climate change on Northern Ireland.

Knowledge about climate change


 81%
81% of the public, 22 out of 28 MLAs, and 51
out of 55 of key decision makers responding
to the survey feel they are either completely
or well informed about climate change.
 99% of the public and 27 out of 28 MLAs
agree the Earths climate is changing.
changing

Climate change and Northern Ireland


 62%
62% of the public state that changes to the
climate have already had
had an impact on them.
20 out of 27 MLAs think that the changing
climate has had an impact on their
constituents.
 There is consensus that climate change will
have an increasing impact on Northern
Ireland
Ireland over the next 5, 25 and 50 years.

Cause of climate change


 92%
92% of the public, 25 out of 27 MLAs, and 54
out of 55 key decision makers think that
people are at least partially responsible for
climate change.
change
 Destruction of rainforests is ranked as the
most significant contribution to climate
change by all four survey groups. Other
issues to rank highly are the manufacturing
industry, power stations and transportation.
Agriculture is ranked the lowest of all sectors
by those surveyed.

Climate Change What will YOU do?

Responsibility for climate change


 Over 90% of each group responding to the survey think industry will have a prominent
impact on helping to reduce climate change.
 26 out of 28 MLAs surveyed think the NI Assembly could have a positive impact on reducing
the impact of climate change but only 68% of the public and 40 out of 55 key decision
makers who responded to the survey agreed.
 25 out of 26 district council respondents think they have an important role in reducing
climate change.
change 18 out of 29 central government departments, 24 out of 28 MLAs and 75%
of the public think that councils have an important role to play.
Willingness to make changes to lifestyle and behaviour
 87% of public respondents think that making changes to their lifestyle will help reduce
climate change.
 18 out of 24 MLAs stated they thought their constituents would be willing to make lifestyle
changes.
changes 89% of public respondents said they would be willing to make lifestyle changes.
 48 out of 55 key decision makers (district councils and central government departments)
state that higher priority assigned to other issues is their main barrier to dealing with climate
change.
Messages needed to take action
 Every group surveyed agreed that a less polluted atmosphere and benefits to public health
were important messages that could be used to encourage people to take action to reduce
climate change.
Actions already taking place
 The most commonly cited action people feel they are undertaking which contributes to
reducing climate change is recycling and switching off
off lights.
lights
Additional actions
actions to consider
 80%
80% of the public surveyed stated they would be prepared to install renewable energy
technology if it helped reduce the impacts of climate change.
 24 out of 28 MLAs stated that the amount of energy generated from
from renewable sources
should be increased to mitigate against climate change.

The important next steps


 23 out of 28 MLAs would support the introduction of Climate Change Impact

Assessments for all relevant government departments. 26 think that ensuring all new
homes are built to meet robust energy standards would have an important impact on
climate change.

 MLAs and key decision makers who responded to the survey are in agreement
that energy efficiency and increasing the supply from renewable energy sources
are important initiatives to mitigate against climate change.

 24 out of 55 key decision makers think managing the impacts of climate change
on their organisations own buildings and estates is a top adaptation priority.

Climate Change What will YOU do?

Introduction
Over the past 18 months climate change has enjoyed an increased profile in the media via
advertising, reporting of scientific studies and local and global events. It is now more common for
advertisers to use lower carbon emissions as a selling point. This, coupled with other
environmental activities such as household multiple bin systems, has likely had a major impact
on the behaviour and attitudes of the public as well as Northern Irelands key decision makers.
These changes have been driven by the research and
forecasts of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC) which has established consensus among
scientists, governments and economists that climate
change is happening and that we must do something
now to reduce the inevitable consequences.
Everyone seems keen to display their green credentials.
Marks & Spencers Plan A is pushing other retailers into
action, HSBC is attempting to rebrand itself as a green
bank, Al Gore won an Oscar for his film promoting action
to address global warming, and Arnold Schwartzenegger
is pushing some radical environmental legislation within
California setting the standard
for other American.
Two reports1, 2 published in 2007 focused on gathering information
covering what people think about climate change. Due to the
increased attention the issue has received since then, it is timely to
gather additional information to see how attitudes have moved on
and to identify what the public, the politicians and other key decision
makers are willing to do to ensure Northern Ireland plays its part
effectively.

This report details the findings of


four surveys which were undertaken during March and April
2008. The purpose of these surveys was to progress the
debate and action on climate change to ascertain a suitable
role for Northern Ireland. While each of the surveys
gathered information on its target audiences opinion on
climate change, it is the additional information on what
messages will help change behaviour, what lifestyle changes
people would be willing to make, what information people
need in order to make informed decisions, and what
measures the politicians would endorse and how key
decision makers are addressing their responsibility that is of
greatest potential importance.

1
2

Ipsos Mori Tipping Point or Turning Point 2007


WWF Climate Change: What Northern Ireland really thinks: August 2007

Climate Change What will YOU do?

Methodology
The four surveys were designed to gather information on:

 What respondents think about climate change,


 Who needs to act to reduce climate change, and
 What different groups are prepared to do to help reduce climate change.
The survey was designed by Sustainable Northern Ireland in consultation with NICCIP and its
members. In March 2008, 4000 households selected at random by NISRA across Northern
Ireland were posted a copy of the survey. To try to make the responses as reflective as possible of
the demographic make-up of Northern Ireland, the survey requested that it should be completed
by the person in the household over the age of 16 whose forename came first alphabetically.
The responses received from the public reflected the national demographic splits in NI between
male and female, income, house type and location. The only variance was with age: the younger
age groups were not adequately represented to be reflective of the percentage of people in NI
between the ages of 16 and 24. This meant these results had to be weighted to enable their
projection to a NI level.
MLAs and key decision-makers from central and local government were also surveyed. These
surveys varied to reflect the type of action and responsibility the individuals or organisations could
take to help reduce climate change. For example, while the public survey asked about what
initiatives respondents undertake or would be prepared to undertake to help reduce climate
change, MLAs were asked about the political initiatives or decisions they would support to
mitigate against and adapt to climate change. Decision-makers were asked their organisations
views on climate change, how prepared they are for its impacts and what they see as their role.

What is Northern Ireland doing about climate change?

The Public

Key Decision
Makers

MLAs

Legislation

Policy

Action

Incentives

All responses were analysised using Microsoft Excel database. Additional analysis was undertaken
by NISRA including weighting of results and cross analysis of responses.

Climate Change What will YOU do?

Section
ONE

The Publics Opinion

Section one of this report contains the opinions and attitudes towards climate
change expressed by the public in March 2008. The data have been handled so as
to enable extrapolation to make statements representative of all of the people of
Northern Ireland.

What do you know about climate change?


When asked whether or not they had heard of climate change prior to taking part in
the survey, 96% of respondents responded positively.
FIG 1.1: I am informed about climate change

There is no difference between


men and women, although
there is a slight variance
between younger and older
generations, with 93% of those
under 35 being aware of
climate change compared to
98% of those aged 35 and
over. There is no observed
difference between urban and
rural respondents or between
respondents with high or low
incomes.

2% 2%
10%
15%
Completely Informed
Fairly Informed
Faily Uninformed
Completely Uninformed
Don't Know

71%

Base: 401 respondents, March 2008

81% of respondents feel they are at least fairly informed about climate change. Only
2% feel they are completely uninformed (fig. 1.1).

What is happening to the climate in Northern Ireland?


FIG 1.2: The changing climate has already had an impact on me
60

50

Average

% of Respondents

40

0-15K
16-30K
31-45K

30

46K+
Income Not Stated
20

10

0
Strongly Agree Tend to Agree

Base: 378 respondents, March 2008

62% of respondents feel


that changes to the
climate have already had
an impact on them (fig.
1.2). There is little
correlation between
average household
income and agreement
that noticeable climate
changes have already
occurred in NI.

Tend to
Disagree

Strongly
Disagree

Don't Know

99% of respondents feel


the Earths climate is
changing. This is an
increase of 19% from a
similar UK government
survey conducted in
20073.

Survey of Public Attitudes and Behaviours Towards the Environment, DEFRA (2007)

Climate Change What will YOU do?

94% of people surveyed feel that Northern Irelands climate is changing. Of those
who feel the Earths climate is changing, 4% do not believe the same for Northern
Ireland. Women are more likely that men to believe that Northern Irelands climate is
changing, 97% compared to 92%.
57% of respondents feel that climate change is more of a global issue than one for
Northern Ireland, but 40% disagreed with this. Men are more likely to think that climate
change is more of a global issue (64%) compared to women (50%).

What are the causes of climate change?


FIG 1.3: Changes to the climate are mainly caused by

1% 1%

6%

Natural Processes
Human Activ ity
34%

58%

Natural Processes and


Human Activ ity
Something Totally Different
Don't Know

Base: 398 respondents, March 2008

When asked what they feel is the


main cause of climate change,
92% of respondents identified some
level of human impact as being
directly responsible for changes to
the climate (fig. 1.3). This figure is
higher than received for a similar
question asked during a WWF
survey4 in August 2007 where 87%
of people surveyed agreed that
human activity is damaging the
earth. Women are more likely to
believe that human activity
is at least partially responsible for
climate change than men, 95%
compared to 89%. Only 6% of
respondents feel climate change is
solely caused by natural processes

89% of those who feel humans are at least partly responsible for climate change feel
that by making changes to their lifestyle they would help reduce the effects of
climate change.

What impact will climate change have in Northern Ireland?

FIG 1.4: Climate change will have an increasing impact on


Northern Ireland over the next 50 years
70

60

50
% of respondents

In the next five years, more


than two-thirds of respondents
(69%) feel there would be little
or no impact on Northern
Ireland from climate change
(fig. 1.4). In 25 years time, 59%
think there will be quite a lot of
impact on Northern Ireland
from climate change (24% said
there will be a great deal of
impact), and in 50 years time,
just
under
two-thirds
of
respondents (64%) feel there
will be a great deal of impact
on NI from changes to the
climate.

40

5 Years
25 Years

30

50 Years

20

10

0
A great deal

Quite a lot

Not very much

No impact

Don't know

Base: 109 respondents for 5 years, 116 for 25 years and 116 for 50 years, March 2008

WWF Climate Change: What Northern Ireland really thinks: August 2007

Climate Change What will YOU do?

Who needs to act?


Respondents were asked to put in rank order the five most significant factors that
they feel contribute to climate change (fig. 1.5). The most frequently quoted
contributor to climate change is destruction of the rainforests (31% of number one
responses). The manufacturing industry and transportation are the next most
commonly quoted contributors.
FIG 1.5: Destruction of the rainforests is the greatest contributor to climate change

1200

Weighted score of respondents

1000

800

600

400

200

0
Destruction of
the rainforest

Pow er
stations

Manufacturing Transportation
industry

Household
Landfill site Natural cycles Construction
electricity
gas emissions of the Earth's
Industry
consumption
climate

Business

Agriculture

Respondents were asked to rank the factors 1 -5 depending on which ones they though contributed most significantly to climate change.
These ranks were then weighted to provide an accurate comparison across each factor.

In terms of being ranked in the top five, the three most frequently quoted contributors
are; destruction of the rainforests (83%), transportation (72%) and power stations
(72%). Agriculture and business are the least frequently quoted contributors within
peoples top five, with 10% and 19% respectively.
By applying a simple weighting mechanism (No.1 rank = 5 points, No. 2 rank = 4 points
etc), the results change slightly. The three highest ranked contributors are; destruction
of the rainforests, manufacturing industry and power stations. The lowest scorings
remain the same.
When the respondents were asked to state how much impact they feel certain
sectors could have in helping to reduce climate change it is interesting to note that
industry is identified as being the sector most likely to make a difference, with 96% of
respondents believing this (fig 1.6). This is followed by world governments, the UK
Government and a co-ordinated approach, with 93%, 87% and 87% of respondents
thinking they will have a positive impact respectively. Perhaps surprisingly, retailers of
consumer goods do not rate highly despite all the efforts they have made in recent
years such as reducing plastic bags and extensive marketing campaigns on their
efforts to reduce their carbon footprints.
The charity sector is not seen as able to have as large an impact as many of the
other sectors. Perhaps this is evidence that people still view charities primarily as fund
raisers. In reality it is often the developmental charities such as Tear Fund and Oxfam
that are making the biggest difference to people affected by climate change.
The agriculture sector is again thought to have little effect on reducing climate
change, probably as it is also seen as an insignificant contributor.

10

Climate Change What will YOU do?

FIG 1.6: Industry and government can make the most difference

100
90
80

60
50
40

Don't Know

% of respondents

70

Will not have an


impact to reduce
climate change
Will have an
impact to reduce
climate change

30
20
10

es
C
ha
rit
i

Bu
sin
on
es
su
s
m
er
g
oo
d
s
N
IA
ss
em
bl
y
A
gr
ic
ul
tu
re
of
c

Re
ta
ile
rs

M
Yo
ed
ur
ia
lo
ca
lc
ou
nc
il

G
ov
er
nm

en
ts
(

In
d
us
try
ex
cl
c
oud
or
in
d
g
in
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at
K)
ed
ap
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o
a
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ch
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G
o
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rn
m
e
nt
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a
Sc
ch
ie
er
nt
sa
ist
nd
s
ed
uc
at
or
s
In
di
vi
du
a
ls

While the chart above demonstrates that respondents feel certain sectors will not be
able to have much impact to reduce climate change themselves there is
overwhelming consensus that a co-ordinated approach is necessary. Each of the
sectors mentioned is seen as having a role to play whether it is through legislation,
incentives, regulation, research, reviewing practices, educating, setting an example
or effective communication and lobbying.

Are people willing to make lifestyle changes?


FIG 1.7: Changing my lifestyle can make a difference
100
90
80

%of respondents

70
60
50
Disagree

40

Agree

30
20
10
0
1

Statement 1:

I think changes to my lifestyle will help reduce climate


change

Statement 2:

I have already made changes to my lifestyle to help reduce


climate changes

Statement 3:

I would be prepared to make [more] changes to my lifestyle to


help reduce climate change

Statement 4:

I would only be prepared to make [more] changes to my


lifestyle if I saw other people also making changes

Statement 5:

I would only be prepared to make [more] changes to my


lifestyle if I saw government (NI) providing the lead

Statement 6:

I would be prepared to make [more] changes to my


lifestyle as long as they do not cost me money

Respondents were
asked to state if
they agreed or
disagreed with a
series of questions
relating to changes
to their lifestyle to
help reduce climate
change (fig. 1.7).
Respondents largely
agreed that making
changes to their
lifestyle will help
reduce climate
change (87%).
Almost nine out of
ten respondents
(89%) state that they
have already made
changes to their
lifestyle to help
reduce climate
change. Women
perform better than
men in this regard,
94% compared to 83%.

11

Climate Change What will YOU do?

92% of respondents state they are willing to make changes to their lifestyle in order to
help reduce climate change. People who stated they have already made changes
to their lifestyle are keen to make more changes (95%), whilst of the 11% of
respondents who have not yet made any changes 71% are still not prepared to do
anything.
Respondents are generally happy to make changes to their lifestyle regardless of
what they see others doing, with only 26% saying they will only be willing to do more if
they see others doing the same. However, respondents are more evenly split when it
comes to taking their lead from government and regarding the cost, with 42% and
48% agreeing that they will only do more if they see the NI Assembly doing more, or if
it is cheaper (respectively). Nearly half (49%) of those who state they have not
already made lifestyle changes want to see more action by the NI Assembly before
they will consider doing anything themselves.
It is important to note that of the 92% of people who think that climate change has
been caused by some form of human activity, 89% think that changes to their lifestyle
will make a difference.

What messages are most effective?


The four messages that come out as the most popular motivations for individuals to
do something to reduce climate change are: a less polluted atmosphere (93%);
protection of wildlife (89%), reduced strain on water supplies (88%), public health
benefits (88%) and reducing the future costs of climate change (87%) (fig. 1.8).
FIG 1.8: Key messages to encourage lifestyle changes
100

90

80

% of respondents

70

60

50

40

30

Would not
motivate you to
do something

20

Would motivate
you to do
something

10

0
A less polluted
atmosphere

Protection of
wildlife

Reduced strain on
water supplies

Public health
benefits

Reduction of future
costs of climate
change

Stability of
seasonal
temperatures

Fewer sever
Greater economic
weather conditions
stability

Lower insurance
premiums

Creation of local
job opportunities

Creating local job opportunities and reducing insurance premiums are the least
effective motivations for encouraging people to combat climate change, with 29%
and 27% of respondents stating that these issues have little or no impact on their
environmental motivations. However, all the messages are supported by over twothirds of respondents.

What are people doing?


Almost nine out of ten respondents say that they already recycle as much as possible
(88%) and switch off lights (88%); 83% of respondents claim that they do both (fig. 1.9).
Other actions that are being carried out by at least 70% of respondents are; turning
appliances off at the plug (78%), turning down the thermostat (75%), reusing bottles
and containers (73%), installing low energy light bulbs (70%), and installing loft
insulation (70%).

12

Climate Change What will YOU do?

Half of the respondents state they recycle as much as possible, reduce the amount of
waste they produce and reuse bottles and containers. 61% of respondents have
done at least one of the following; bought a car with a smaller engine, changed to a
more fuel efficient car or made fewer car journeys.

What else are people prepared to do?


The most popular action that people are prepared to do is to install a renewable
energy source in their home (80%) (fig. 1.9). More than half of those who responded
say they are prepared to do the following; sign up to an eco- energy tariff (75%),
change to a more fuel efficient car (66%), replace broken appliances with more
energy efficient ones (55%), reduce the number of electrical appliances (54%), and
buy food with less packaging (54%).

What will people not do?


Respondents are least prepared to buy second hand clothes and furniture (45%) (fig.
1.9). More than one in three respondents are not prepared to grow their own food
(37%), while 28% of respondents are not prepared to eat less meat and only 17% are
prepared to fly less.
When asked about the possible reasons why people may not take action against
climate change, respondents feel the cost and the inconvenience may put people
off more than any other reasons (88% and 86% respectively). Feeling that taking
action is not their responsibility or is too time consuming are the next most frequently
quoted reasons for why people may not be willing to take action (also 82% and 81%
respectively).
Perhaps most worryingly is the fact that 81% of respondents feel that people do not
take action because they are not interested in climate change.

FIG 1.9: I do recycle, I will install renewable energy, but I wont buy 2nd hand clothes or furniture

100
90
80

% of respondents

70
60
50
40
30
20
Already doing
10

Prepared to do
Not prepared to do
f
of
es

th
e

lia
nc

of
fl
ig
ht
s

Tu

rn

do

w
n

ap
p
Tu
rn

Sw
i tc
h

rm
In
os
st
ta
al
In
ll
t
st
o
ft
al
ll
in
ow
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l
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er
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gy
In
st
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al
ht
lr
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ew
ab
le
C
ha
en
Si
gn
ng
er
R
gy
ed
e
up
to
uc
to
a
e
e
m
th
co
or
e
- ta
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R
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le

13

Climate Change What will YOU do?

The MLAs Opinions


Opinions

Section
TWO

The attitudes and behaviour of our elected representatives were also surveyed. This
was both in terms of what they believe on an individual basis and on how these
beliefs translate into action within their political remit. Some of the questions asked
are identical with those asked of the general public.
Out of 104 MLAs we received 28 responses. The data returned did include responses
from all parties though we are unable to compare results across political parties. The
low response rate also means it is not possible to make comparisons between MLAs
and the public. In some cases we have indicated what the public thought about a
particular issue that MLAs also were questioned on but these statements should not
be viewed as statistically valid.

How well informed are our elected representatives?


22 out of 28 MLAs who responded feel fairly informed about climate change. None of
the respondents feels completely informed or completely uninformed, while 6 feel
fairly uninformed.

FIG 2.1: Climate change is an issue for Northern Irelands MLAs

16

14

No of Respon dents

12

Climate change is more


of a global issue than one
for NI

10

Changes to the climate


have affected my
constituents

My constituents are
worried about climate
change

0
Strongly
Agree

Tend to
Agree

Tend to
Disagree

Strongly
Disagree

Don't Know

27 MLAs
responding feel
the Earths
climate is
changing and
that this is
reflected in
Northern
Irelands
changing
climate. The
results received
from the general
public stated
that many of
those who feel
that Northern
Irelands climate
is changing think
that climate
change is more
of a global issue
than one for
Northern Ireland
(fig. 2.1).

20 MLAs who responded think that changes in the climate have affected their
constituents (fig. 2.1). 67% of the public who responded say they have actually
experienced climate change. 19 MLAs expressed the opinion that their constituents
are worried about climate change (fig. 2.1).
Of the possible causes for climate change only one MLA thinks climate change is a
natural phenomenon and that people have no impact on it. One stated they dont
know what causes it, while the remainder believe climate change is caused by
human activity (9 MLAs) or a combination of human activity and natural processes
(16 MLAs).

14

Climate Change What will YOU do?

What impact will climate change have on Northern Ireland?


MLAs who responded expressed an opinion that climate change will have an
increasing impact over the next 50 years. 9 think climate change is going to have
either a great deal or quite a lot of impact over the next five years, compared to 24
in 25 years rising to 26 out of 28 in 50 years.
Of the 28 MLAs who responded, 24 think they are more likely to make lifestyle
changes than they believe their constituents are, with 25 stating they are prepared to
make changes but only 18 thinking their constituents will be willing to make changes
(fig.2.2). The results from the public survey show that 86% of the population in Northern
Ireland are willing to make lifestyle changes to help reduce the impacts of climate
change.
22 MLAs think that their constituents will only be willing to make changes to their
lifestyles if they see government in Northern Ireland taking the lead (fig. 2.2). The
public survey responses indicated that 43% of the public would have to see
government taking action before they will make changes.
FIG 2:2 The willingness to make changes is there
28

24

No of respondents

20

16
Disagree
Agree

12

0
I would be willing to make changes

My constituents would be willing to


make changes

Climate change will have an impact on


the economy

My constituents will only change if


government does

19 MLAs think that climate change will have an impact on economic growth in
Northern Ireland (fig. 2.2). As economic prosperity is one of two cross cutting themes
in the Programme for Government, this indicates that MLAs think climate change
must be a significant consideration for most of their decisions.

What is causing climate change?


MLAs who responded believe that the most significant factor contributing to global
warming is the destruction of the rainforest; 10 respondents ranked it first. In fact, the
10 respondents who think that climate change is more of a global issue than a
Northern Irish one cite destruction of the rainforests as the main contributing factor to
climate change. This was followed by power stations, manufacturing industry and
transportation. If a weighting is applied to the factors (those ranked 1 = 5, those
ranked 2 = 4 etc.) then the order of significance changes. Power stations become the
highest ranking factor (83 weighted response), followed by destruction of the
rainforest (82 weighted response) and in third place household electricity
consumption (54 weighted response).

Who can make a difference?


The MLAs feel the Northern Ireland Assembly can have the same impact as the UK
Government; 26 respondents feel that both governments could either have a great
deal or quite a lot of impact on climate change. This is slightly lower than the impact
they think global governments can have (27 MLAs) but makes sense when examined

15

Climate Change What will YOU do?

with other responses, such as the main contributor to climate change being seen as
destruction of the rainforests and climate change being more of a global issue.
The MLAs who responded do not think that the charitable sector can have much
impact on climate change. Also, like the public, the responses submitted by MLAs
indicate strong support for a co-ordinated approach to reducing climate change. 24
MLAs responding think a co-ordinated approach to climate change will have either a
great deal or quite a lot of impact.

What are the top three priorities for action?


MLAs were asked to state their top three priorities for action to mitigate against
climate change. Their top priority is to increase the level of renewable energy (24
MLAs). This links well to the 78% of the population who are willing to install renewable
energy sources and signifies a significant area for action in Northern Ireland.
Joint second are the priorities to lower the fuel consumption of vehicles and develop
policies to cut carbon emissions (16 out of 28 MLAs), while third is support for
increasing energy efficiency (15 MLAs). Greener procurement (0 MLAs), efficient use
of materials in building projects (1 MLA) and awareness raising and education (5
MLAs) do not come across as high priority activities, but only three choices were
allowed for each person. MLAs choices reflect the nature of their position to dictate
policy and provide strategic leadership.
MLAs were also asked to state their top three priorities to adapt to the inevitable
impacts of climate change. Interestingly the top adaptation priority is to manage the
natural environment and biodiversity (19 out of 28 MLAs), followed by updating
policies to take account of climate change (17 MLAs) and managing flood risks (10
MLAs). Low on their list of priorities are managing the impacts on service delivery (1
MLA) and managing the impacts on their own buildings and estates (2 MLAs). Again
only three choices were allowed and MLA results reflect their areas of responsibility.
The lower priority given to managing the impacts on public health (6 out of 28 MLAs)
does not tie in with the responses received from MLAs asking them to indicate how
much of an impact various sectors can have on reducing climate change. 27 MLAs
indicated that climate change will have either a great deal or quite a lot of impact
on public health in Northern Ireland.

What will make us want to act?


A less polluted atmosphere and protection of wildlife have 100% support from MLAs.
Of the potential benefits which can result from reducing changes to the Earths
climate, these are thought to provide the greatest incentive to ensure decisions
taken by MLAs, for their constituents, will not exacerbate climate change. Factors
least likely to make MLAs consider the impacts on climate change in their decision
making process are lower insurance premiums (14 out of 28 MLAs), although this is still
a high percentage of respondents who would be encouraged to take action.
MLAs responding to the survey feel that the development of regulations to ensure
that all new homes meet high standards for energy efficiency (26 out of 28 MLAs) and
the introduction of robust standards on industry so they are forced to produce fewer
greenhouse gases (24 MLAs) are seen as the two initiatives that will have the greatest
impact on reducing climate change (fig. 2.3). Also popular with the MLAs who
responded was the introduction of tax rebates for people who live in more energy
efficient homes (23 MLAs) and more government money in the development of
renewable energy projects like wind farms (23 MLAs). A reduction in road building
programmes, with increases in bus lanes, and park and ride facilities, is also thought

16

Climate Change What will YOU do?

to be a positive development with 21 out of 28 respondents thinking it will have a


positive impact.
The initiatives thought to have the least impact are increasing taxes to subsidise
public transport (12 out of 28 MLAs thinking it would have not very much or no
impact) and increasing the price of gas, petrol and other non-renewable electricity
sources (11 MLAs thinking it would not have an impact). However, even here nearly
50% of respondents still think they are a good idea.
FIG 2.3: How much of an impact will the following initiatives have to reduce climate change?

28

24

No of Respondents

20

16

Not very much /


no impact

12
A great deal /
Quite a lot
8

0
Regulations to Robust standards
ensure that all
on industryto
new homes built
produce less
meet high
greenhouse
standards for
gases
energy efficiency

Tax rebates for More government


people in more
money into the
energy-efficient
development of
homes
renew able energy
projects like w ind
farms

Reduction in road
building projects
but increase bus
lanes, park and
ride facilities etc.

Increase in the
Increase in taxes
price of gas,
to subsidise public
petrol and other
transport
non- renew able
electricity

Using their role what incentives/initiatives would MLAs support?


MLAs were asked if they supported a prescribed list of measures that would ensure
Northern Ireland can play its role in reducing climate change (fig. 2.4). Of the
measures suggested the most popular are Climate Impact Assessments for all
relevant government policies (23 out of 28 MLAs) and Northern Irelands participation
in the UK Climate Change Bill (21 MLAs).
FIG: 2.4: Climate change impact assessments for all relevant government policies
25

No of Respondents

20

15

10

0
Climate Impact
Northern
Higher taxes
Assessments
Ireland's
for carbon
for all relevant participation in
intensive
government the UK Climate
industries
policies
Change Bill

Targets of
80% for
emissions
reduction in
Northern
Ireland

Carbon
offsetting on
the
government
estate

Higher taxes
for carbon
intensive
transport

Greater
visibility of
carbon
accounting
w ithin
procurement

Sufficiently
resourced
financial
measures to
deliver a low
carbon
economy

The Climate
Change Levy

17

Climate Change What will YOU do?

The measures with the lowest level of support from the respondents are a Climate
Change Levy (only 16 respondents supporting this); greater visibility of carbon
accounting within procurement (17 MLAs) and sufficiently resourced financial
measures to deliver a low carbon economy (17 MLAs). However, these measures
were still supported by most respondents.
FIG 2.5: How many signed the No Day
Named Motion on climate change?

22 respondents state they supported the


climate change No Day Named Motion5, 2
said they have not while 4 did not answer
(fig. 2.5). This does not match the recorded
figures of just over 50% of MLAs that have
signed the NDNM. Perhaps this is evidence
of who within the Assembly completed and
returned the survey.

No Answer
No

Yes

A No Day Named Motion is the term given to an Assembly debate for which no date has been fixed yet.
MLAs are invited to sign to motion to demonstrate their support.
5

18

Climate Change What will YOU do?

Decision Makers
Makers Opinions
Opinions

Section
THREE

The third and fourth groups surveyed contain some of Northern Irelands key decision
makers. Officers in central government departments and their local government
(district council) counterparts were asked a series of questions to identify their position
on climate change and ascertain what work, if any, they have initiated to mitigate
and adapt to future events.
A total of 55 responses were received from decision makers, 29 from central
government departments and 26 from district councils (responses were received from
22 different councils). These results have been amalgamated to give an overall
opinion on how decision makers are dealing with climate change. Due to the small
number of responses it is not possible to make direct comparisons between central
government and district councils respondents, although in some cases statements
have been made regarding the answers provided by each decision maker group.

How informed are decision makers?


51 out of 55 respondents feel either completely or fairly informed about climate
change. 4 feel fairly uninformed while no respondents think they are completely
uninformed or selected do not know. Central government respondents feel slightly
better informed than district council respondents; 28 out of 29 respondents from
central government organisations feel either fairly or completely informed; 23 out of
26 district council respondents felt the same.
21 out of 55 respondents feel climate change is more of a global issue than one for
Northern Ireland (fig. 3.1) and 30 think is it just as important an issue in NI as elsewhere,
while four did not supply a response.
FIG 3.1: Do you agree with the statements?

30

N o o f resp o n d en ts

25

20
Climate change is more of a
global issue than one for NI
15

10

Changes to the climate have


had an effect on this
organisation

This organisation can


contribute tow ards reducing
climate change

0
Strongly Agree

Tend to Agree

Tend to Disagree

Strongly Disagree

Don't Know

17 out of 24 council respondents feel that changes to the climate have already had
an effect on the organisation whereas 14 out of 27 respondents from central
government feel the same. Both groups of respondents feel their organisation can
contribute towards reducing climate change; 53 out of the 55 decision makers who
respondent either tend to agree or
strongly agreed (fig. 3.1).

19

Climate Change What will YOU do?

Of the possible causes of climate change, all but 1 respondent think humans have
some impact on climate change either by themselves or alongside natural processes.
The responses received from decision makers indicate a high level of understanding
and consideration of the issues that their organisations are giving to climate change.
36 of the 55 respondents feel they have a good understanding of the issues and are
developing a Strategy. 19 said they have a vague understanding and are aware of
key issues only. No respondent states they do not understand climate change or they
are sceptical and that climate change does not need to be a consideration for their
organisation.

What are organisations doing to address climate change?


FIG 3.2: Does your organisation have a Climate Change
Strategy or Policy?

Yes, completed and published


Yes, completed but not published
Yes, in development
No, but intend to produce one
No, and no current plans to produce one

Only 10 respondents state their


organisation has no plans to
produce a climate change
strategy or policy. 6 out of 29
central government respondents
either have a published Climate
Change Strategy or have one in
development (fig. 3.2). Only 2 out
of 26 district council respondents
have a Strategy.

34 out of 55 respondents feel the main driver for their organisations Climate Change
Strategy (or similar either completed, in development or planned) is leadership from
senior management. This is often followed by a formal declaration or similar
commitment (30 respondents) and integration with the organisations Strategic Plan
(25 respondents).
The organisations with completed plans, ones in development or ones planned were
asked some specific questions about the plans and what they contained. Responses
received show that buildings, services and vehicles are included in the plans more in
terms of mitigation than adaptation. These are areas where decision makers are
seeing that they may have a significant role to play in trying to reduce the effects of
climate change on both their organisation and on Northern Ireland.
FIG 3.3: Mitigation priorities of decision makers
40

35

No of respondents

30

25

20

15

10

0
Increase energy
efficiency

20

Waste reduction

Increase levels of
renew able energy

Greener procurement

Aw areness raising
Develop policies to
and education in the cut carbon emissions
community

Low er fuel
consumption of
vehicles

Efficient use of
materials in building
projects

More sustainable
methods of travel

Climate Change What will YOU do?

Decision makers were asked to state their top three priorities to mitigate against
climate change (fig. 3.3). Responses showed these to be: increasing energy
efficiency (38 out of 55 respondents), waste reduction (23 respondents), increase
levels of renewable energy (19 respondents) and greener procurement (19
respondents).
Decision makers listed their top three priorities to adapt to climate change
predominantly as managing the impacts on the organisations own buildings and
estate (24 out of 55 respondents), managing the impacts on service delivery (23
respondents), and managing the impacts on the natural environment and
biodiversity (18 respondents) (fig. 3.4).
FIG. 3.4: Adaptation priorities of decision makers

30

25

No of respondents

20

15

10

0
Managing impacts
on ow n buildings
and estate

Managing impacts
Managing the
Managing impact on Updating policies to
on service delivery natural environment
local community
take account of
and biodiversity
climate change

Managing impacts
on the built
environment

Managing flood
risks

Managing impacts
on public health

Managing impact on
local economy

Managing w ater
resources

When decision makers were asked to put in rank order the factors they feel are most
significantly contributing to climate change, power stations (15 out of 55 respondents)
received the highest percentage of number one rankings. This is followed by
household energy consumption (13 respondents) and transportation (11
respondents). If a weighted ranking is applied to the results this order of impact does
not change.

Who can make a difference?


World governments (excluding the UK) and industry are identified as the sectors likely
to have the greatest impact on reducing climate change. 53 out of 55 respondents
state they can either have a great deal or quite a lot of impact. Respondents also
rate the impact the UK government can have quite highly, with 51 stating they can
have an impact. This compares with 40 respondents who feel the NI Assembly can
have an impact. 43 respondents feel that district councils can have either a great
deal or quite a lot of impact. This figure varied greatly between the two sectors of
government; while 25 out of 26 district council respondents feel their organisation
could make a great deal or quite a lot of impact, only 18 out of 29 central
government respondents feel district councils will be able to make a difference.

What will make a difference?


The top three initiatives respondents feel can successfully reduce climate change are
development of regulations to ensure that new homes are built to meet high
standards for energy efficiency (53 out of 55 respondents), introduction of robust
standards on industry so they are forced to produce fewer greenhouse gasses (52

21

Climate Change What will YOU do?

respondents) and more government money spent on the development of renewable


energy projects (48 respondents).
The initiatives respondents feel will have least impact focus around transportation. 31
out of 55 respondents feel increasing taxes to subsidise public transport will have little
or no impact to reduce climate change. 26 respondents feel increasing the price of
gas, petrol and other non-renewable energy sources will have little impact along with
25 who feel similarly about reducing road building projects.

What is stopping organisations take action?


Of the factors limiting a decision makers organisation from actively working to help
reduce climate change, other issues taking higher priority (48 out of 55 respondents) is
most frequently cited as an issue (fig.3.5). This is followed by insufficient staff / staff
time (40 respondents) and lack of funding (38 respondents).
FIG 3.5: Why is climate change not a priority?

Other issues take higher priority


Insufficient staff/staff time
Lack of funding
Perceived lack of leadership from central government
Lack of specialist knowledge
Difficulty embedding climate change actions in other plans/strategies
Lack of appropriate government guidance
Need to bid for project funding resource intensive
Difficulty co-ordinating reagionally between adjacent areas
Insufficient powers
Difficulty co-ordinating different departments within the organisation
Lack of awareness or interest from the public
Lack of awareness or interest from officials
Lack of awareness or interest from staff
Local resistance to specific schemes
0

10

15

20

25

30

35

40

45

No of respondents

Central government respondents indicate a difficulty in embedding climate change


actions into other strategies and plans; 16 out of 29 respondents feel this is a difficulty.
While district councils felt the perceived lack of leadership from central government
(22 out of 26 respondents) was a difficulty. Respondents also cite lack of leadership
from within their organisations as being a problem.

22

50

Climate Change What will YOU do?

Section
FOUR

Conclusions
What did respondents think about climate change?

The data generated from each of the sectors surveyed demonstrates that there is
consensus within Northern Ireland that climate change is happening and that people
feel relatively well informed about it.
While many respondents (the public, MLAs and organisations) view climate change
as more of a global issue than one for Northern Ireland, over two-thirds of the public
respondents feel that they have already felt the effects of changes to the climate.

Much work is needed to demonstrate


the significance of climate change to
Northern Ireland both in terms of our
impact on climate change and the
impact of climate change on us. The
most efficient way to do this will be to
tap into and publicise the experiences
of the two-thirds of the population who
state they have already felt the
impacts, either on a personal level or
via their organisations.

The significance of climate


change to Northern Ireland
both in terms of our impact on
climate change and the
impact climate change will
have on us needs to be
highlighted

Most respondents to each of the surveys felt that people have contributed to climatic
change, either alone or in combination with natural processes. This indicates that
resources should focus on demonstrating what the public, MLAs and decision makers
can do to help reduce climate change. The impacts people in Northern Ireland have
in a global capacity also need to be a focus as there is a danger that because they
view climate change largely as a global issue it is easy for people to also view the
solution as global.

Our impact on the destruction


of the rainforests needs to be
made clear, especially the
role we play, through our
purchasing decisions, and
how we can help reduce this
and ultimately climate
change.

When people were asked about the


global significance of climate change,
most respondents cited destruction of the
rainforests as the main contributing factor
to climate change. The links between the
destruction of the rainforests and our
culpability is not evident in the survey
results with many still viewing climate
change as more of a global issue than
one for Northern Ireland.

The energy emitted from alien (little green men) space craft was thought to play a
role in raising global temperatures by one member of the public. With that exception,
most groups surveyed were in agreement that people, through our actions, have in
some way contributed to climate change.

23

Climate Change What will YOU do?

What level of impact is climate change going to have?


The majority of respondents in each group
surveyed think climate change will have a
notable impact within the next five years,
and that this will increase in significance in
25 and 50 years. An increase in the
notable effects of climate change will
perhaps mean difficult times ahead for NI
and that both the impacts and
consequences of climate change can
not be ignored.

Climate change will increase


in the significance of its
impacts over the next 5, 25
and 50 years

How do respondents think we can make a difference?


The results from the survey help reinforce the different roles and responsibilities each
sector has, particularly the difference between MLAs and key decision makers within
the civil service and local government. This was particularly evident when MLAs and
key decision makers were asked to select their three priorities for mitigation and
adaptation. MLAs tended to prioritise policies and the economy while decision
makers prioritised more practical issues such as managing the impact of climate
change on service delivery and in their estates.

Everyone has a role


MLAs need to set policy
and lead by example
Decision makers need to
provide the infrastructure
and demonstrate
commitment to a low
carbon economy
The public, who do rate
their ability to make a
difference as high, need to
make changes to their
lifestyles

The survey demonstrates that the majority of


people (the public, MLAs and key decision
makers) are willing to act. It is important that
we implement a strategy that takes
account of the willingness of each of the
groups to make changes to their lifestyles
and work practices. Each group of
respondents also rates their own ability to
make a difference as relatively high.
Respondents displayed a high level of
confidence in the ability of all sectors to
play a useful role. District councils stood out
as the most confident in the ability of others
to play a useful role. In particular they were
confident in industry, businesses and were
the strongest supports of the agricultural
sector to help reduce the magnitude of
climate change.

The success of Northern Ireland effectively


contributing to mitigating against and
adapting to climate change will depend on
what happens next. This survey demonstrates
everyone is willing to act.

24

The will is there but it is


essential that good
communication, capacity
building and practical
drivers are used to help
everyone participate.

Climate Change What will YOU do?

Recommendations

Section
FIVE

The results of this survey were presented to members of NICCIP, key decision makers
and other stakeholders at the launch of NICCIP in November 2008. The discussions
generated during a number of workshops held as part of the event have helped
formulate the primary recommendations arising from the survey. The
recommendations will also help NICCIP formulate its plan of what it needs to do.
These workshops identified five common themes that have been developed as
headline recommendations with specific actions being left to NICCIPs future action
plan.

1. Planning
Long-term strategic planning should include policies, targets, commitment
and action in relation to both adaptation and mitigation. This should link
climate change with sustainable economic policy and involve all structures of
government.

2. Co-ordination
Climate change requires a co-ordinated approach and partnerships need to
be used effectively to ensure the message is clearly communicated, actions
are undertaken and impact is measured. This means co-ordination of what
different stakeholders are doing, inclusion of all stakeholders within any action
and fragmentation of approach needs to be overcome.

3. Measurement
Quantitative and qualitative measurements of climate change impacts and
actions need to be established including measures of public opinion as well as
measures of the impacts which actions and policies are having on carbon
emissions. The impacts and attitudes to climate change of the business sector
should be included along side the sectors contained within this survey.

4. Communication
Targeted and sector specific communication mechanisms must be put in
place to engage with all sectors in Northern Ireland. This requires specific
communication and information dissemination to the public, MLAs, central
government, local government and businesses to promote and encourage
action to mitigate and adapt to climate change. It also includes promotion of
what impacts actions (both positive and negative) in NI are having on a
global and local scale. The use jargon should be kept to a minimum and
messages should be clear, concise and consistent.

5. Action
Support packages and guidance documentation should be written to help
make it easy for the public, MLAs, decision makers and other key stakeholders
to make changes to help reduce Northern Irelands contribution to climate
change. Identification of the types of action which will encourage the public,
MLAs, decision makers and businesses to get involved is necessary.

The Recommendations formulated from the results of this survey are vital to ensure
Northern Irelands success at effectively addressing the changing climate.

25

Climate Change What will YOU do?

26

Climate Change What will YOU do?

27

Climate Change What will YOU do?

NICCIP is supported by the following organisations; DOE, DARD, SNIFFER, NILGA,


DHSSPS, SDC (OFMdFM), NI WATER, Local Government, NIEL, UFU, CBI, NICVA, Fed of
Small Businesses and UKCIP

This Survey was carried out by Sustainable Northern Ireland on behalf of NICCIP
Sustainable Northern Ireland
89 Loopland Drive
BELFAST
BT6 9DW
www.sustainableni.org
info@sustainableni.org
Phone: 028 9050 7850

28