EuroTrack: did COP-26 convince Europeans that action would be taken on climate change?

Jemma ConnerSenior Research Executive
December 03, 2021, 2:05 PM UTC

With world leaders having returned to their own countries with their latest commitments and pledges from the COP-26 conference in Glasgow, the latest YouGov EuroTrack data looks at what Europeans made of the conference, and whether opinion has moved as a result.

Awareness differs hugely according to country

Despite COP being the largest international climate change event, with the highest-profile attendees, awareness of the conference differs greatly between countries. Compared to before COP26, awareness has grown across all countries, with the biggest growth in France. French people had the highest awareness before the conference, with 26% saying they had heard a great deal or fair amount about it when asked in mid-September, but this figure had grown to 70% in the days immediately after the conference closed.

There is also a significant jump in awareness amongst Spaniards and Italians – 18-19% had heard a great deal or fair amount about it in September, but this figure has risen to around half (54% and 49% respectively) in mid-November.

Awareness is lowest in Denmark, with just 28% saying they had heard much about the conference in November, and 65% saying they had heard little or nothing at all.

COP-26 had limited impact on public opinion and belief in the likelihood of significant action being taken

Comparing results from pre- and post-COP26, the conference seems to have had only a limited impact on whether or not the European public expect significant action to be taken to tackle climate change. Even more concerning, what impact has been felt has largely been negative.

Seven in 10 French people (69%) feel it is unlikely that COP-26 will result in significant action, up 13 points from when it was last asked in September. Spain saw a similar trend, with 66% saying it was unlikely, compared to 55% pre-COP26.

Across the other five countries, there was very little movement on this measure. Germans continue to be pessimistic, with 67% saying it was unlikely. There is slightly more hope in the Nordics and Italy, but even here a majority say action in unlikely (52% in Denmark, 54% in Sweden and 55% in Italy).

See full results here