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Survey: National Government Most Responsible for Tackling Dublin’s Fossil Fuel Use

10th December, 2021

An overwhelming majority of people living in Dublin feel that our national government is most responsible for moving the capital away from fossil fuels, according to a survey carried out by Codema.

The ‘Zero Together’ survey, which ran during September and October this year, received over 1,000 responses from the public who shared their views on a range of issues on how best to move Dublin away from fossil fuels and make the capital a clean and healthy county to live, work and visit.

When asked to select the top five groups* most responsible for moving Dublin away from fossil fuels, the vast majority of respondents placed responsibility with our national government at 92%, followed by local authorities at 76%, businesses at 70%, individuals at 67% and elected members at 46%.

However, when asked who the public trusts in relation to information on energy and climate change, the survey analysis showed that levels of trust are quite low among those groups that are held most responsible. For example, 55% of respondents said that they trust our national government “somewhat” or “not at all”, with 57% only trusting local authorities “somewhat” or “not at all”.

Levels of trust were also very low among businesses and industry and elected members, with 86% and 81% responding that they only trusted these groups “somewhat” or “not at all”, respectively. This is in contrast to a high level of trust among the public on information on energy and climate change coming from scientists (67%), environmental organisations and charities (36%) and universities and schools (21%).

The public were asked to rank the level of impact they can make as an individual to reduce Dublin’s reliance on fossil fuels for energy. The overall average score was 47 (with 0 being no impact and 100 representing a big impact), indicating that people living in Dublin feel they can have “some impact” with moderate self-efficacy.

The survey findings also indicated that previous levels of engagement among the public is very low, with 71% of respondents saying that their views or concerns on how we produce and use energy in Dublin had “rarely” or “never” been taken into account.

When asked how they want to their views and concerns to be captured in the future, 68% of respondents said that they would like to see initiatives that “allow people living and working in Dublin to discuss, propose and vote on actions that could be presented to local authorities and national government”, indicating that a local citizens’ assembly or a citizens’ jury is very much welcomed by the people of Dublin.

The public were also asked how often they think about their everyday energy use, with the vast majority (96%) answering that they thought about their energy use either all of the time (48%) or some of the time (48%), with very few indicating that they never thought about their daily energy use.  When asked what the key areas of concern were, 84% of respondents cited “environment and climate” as the main trigger for thinking about their energy use, highlighting that issues related to climate change and global warming are very much top of mind for the majority of those living in Dublin.

The survey also highlighted actions that people living in Dublin are doing already to reduce emissions, with 69% walking and cycling more, 69% reducing their waste and repairing products, 62% using energy more efficiently at home and 56% using public transport more. Interestingly, there was a lower uptake in the number of people switching their energy supplier, with just 39% of respondents indicating that they had already switched to a supplier that uses renewable energy.

The survey also indicated areas where the public need further support in moving away from fossil fuels, which related mainly to activities where financial investment or technical knowledge is required. Thirty-three per cent of respondents said they wanted to move away from fossil fuels to heat their homes (e.g. by switching to a heat pump) but felt this was too expensive.  A further 33% said they would like to be in a position to do this but it was “not an option” for them or they “don’t know how”.

Additionally, many respondents said they would like to be able to source their own renewable energy (e.g. by installing solar panels) but felt that that this was either too expensive (37%), not an option for them (23%) or they didn’t have information on how to do this (7%).

With over 31% of Dublin’s total emissions coming from the residential sector, this survey highlights that barriers such as cost, poor infrastructure and a lack of information and awareness need to be addressed, in order to enable those living in Dublin to take direct action.

Of the total 1,102 survey respondents, 39% said they drove frequently, a further 43% said they drove sometimes, while 18% of respondents said they didn’t drive at all.  Almost one in five (19%) respondents said that they were planning to switch to an electric car; however, the majority (52%) of those surveyed said that this was either “too expensive” or “not an option” for them at this time.

Ninety-five per cent of those who answered the survey lived in Dublin, with the remainder commuting to the capital for work. There was a slightly higher proportion of female respondents at 56% of the total, with 41% male respondents, 2% choosing not to identify and 1% identifying as non-binary.  The majority (67%) of respondents were aged between 25 and 54; the sample is broadly representative of the population of Dublin but with some over-representation in the 35-44 and 45-54 age categories.