European social survey to study the impact of climate change risk on people’s behaviour

With the help of the researchers of the University of Tartu, three thousand Estonians responding to the questionnaire will contribute to European Social Survey analysing the impacts of climate change risk. Researchers want to find out whether people’s behaviour and attitudes are influenced by awareness, resources or other factors. 

“Current data show that over the last ten years, appreciation of the natural environment has increased more in countries that were more affected by the economic crisis and where there are more social problems. In economically difficult periods people apparently seek more balance and the natural environment may prove a valuable and nearly free source for peace of mind,” Kati Orru, researcher in Environmental Sociology of the University of Tartu, explains the background to the survey.

The survey analyses people’s readiness to accept more resource-efficient solutions in their lives, energy use issues and attitudes towards the use of different types of energy sources and natural resources.

“Our studies so far have shown that environmental attitudes are influenced by people’s actual experiences. For example, in the Mediterranean countries – Italy, Spain, Greece, where climate change-related death rate is the highest – environmental awareness has improved considerably. It is characteristic that negative experiences draw people’s attention to their own vulnerability and that of the environment,” Orru adds.

European Social Survey (ESS) is funded as a project of the Estonian research infrastructure by the Ministry of Education and Research and it is conducted in cooperation with Statistics Estonia. Since 2004 the European Social Survey has been conducted in international cooperation simultaneously in 20 countries. In Estonia the survey is coordinated by the University of Tartu.

Additional information:
Kati Orru, Research Fellow in Environmental Sociology of the University of Tartu, 515 8545,
Mare Ainsaar, Senior Research Fellow in Sociology of the University of Tartu, Coordinator of the European Social Survey in Estonia, 517 8132,

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