More climate change skeptics in Netherlands; especially men and elderly

Wind turbines in Amsterdam
Wind turbines in AmsterdamPhoto: Pantona / Wikimedia Commons

The number of Dutch people who are worried about climate change decreased significantly over the past months. While the group who thinks that addressing greenhouse gas emissions is going too far is growing since the government announced their climate plans, according to a survey by Peter Kanne of I&O Research, AD reports.

At the end of 2015 two thirds of Dutch thought the cabinet should do more to limit the emission of greenhouse gasses. Now it's only 48 percent. In the same period, the group that thinks the government should do less grew from 7 to 19 percent. Late last month 65 percent of Dutch said they were worried about climate change, a significant decrease compared to the 78 percent who were worried about this in December. 

Two thirds of Dutch are convinced that humans are responsible for global warming. But the group that thinks their own actions can make a difference is much smaller. Some 60 percent of Dutch think that as long as large companies do not reduce their CO2 emissions, their own actions don't matter.

Men, the elderly and people with lower levels of education are considerably more skeptical about climate change and their role therein than women, young people and higher educated. According to Kanne, this is because the first group has more to lose if there is a stricter climate policy. "Men eat a lot more meat and drive more cars than women. Older people have more gains than young people who, for example, do not have a car yet. And among the lower educated the mistrust in politics, the press and science is big." Older men with a high education and above-average income who vote for the VVD have the largest carbon footprint, according to Kanne. 

"The skepticism about climate change is increasing", Kanne concluded, according to AD. He believes this turnaround is linked to the draft Climate Agreement the government presented just before Christmas. "In our latest poll we see that people are not that enthusiastic about it. They are afraid that it will cost them a lot of money. And of course it is not pleasant either: we are called upon give up nice things like eating meat, long showers and going on holiday by plane. And you do not immediately get anything in return."

According to Kanne, this leads to what psychologists call cognitive dissonance - people adjust their conclusions and seek resonance from parties that question the need for reducing CO2 emissions. "The pronouncedly skeptical reactions of Klaas Dijkhoff [VVD], Sybrand Buma [CDA] and Thierry Baudet [FvD] attracted a lot of attention at the beginning of this year. Just like the reports from De Telegraaf about meatballs that should be on ration. The news that the energy bill this year will be over 300 euros higher on average, came on top of that."