A study by researchers at the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) sheds light on Spanish attitudes towards future climate action by governments and individuals. The study found that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a considerable impact on society’s attitudes towards climate change and the actions taken to combat it. According to the study, most Spaniards are pessimistic about climate action in the post-pandemic future. Conclusions are based on responses obtained from an survey.

The ICTA-UAB research team was led by economist Jeroen van den Bergh. The team analyzed responses from surveys with the help of computational linguistics methods.

The results were published in the journal PLoS ONE.

These responses two extremes in the Spanish community. There are optimistic voices that people’s environmental behavior will turn around after the epidemic. However, these voices are often overruled by criticisms that suggest environmental issues are taking a back seat after the pandemic.

According to these critics, economic recovery plans, rather than environment-related strategies, are now receiving more attention from governments.

There are more voices of pessimism, according to a report by EurekAlert. Their reasons usually refer to budget constraints due to COVID-19 and the concurrent economic and health crises that have distracted attention from issues related to the climate crisis. During the pandemic, we have also witnessed an increase in waste due to the use of single-use protective equipment such as masks and gloves, further supporting the critics’ point.

Optimistic responses accounted for only 15% of total responses. Their opinion is based on two reasons. These people believe that the pandemic has given us a much-needed wake-up call. According to them, COVID-19 has also become a point of departure for people to turn to more thoughtful spending habits and telecommuting. However, 8.2% believe there is no link between COVID-19 and climate change.

See also  The first image of "Cosmic Net" reveals the labyrinth of dwarf galaxies

ICTA-UAB researcher and lead author of the study, Ivan Savin, said: “We found that governments and people’s expectations of future climate action tend to be closely related. In addition, those most optimistic about future climate action tend to be younger, male, and more experienced. Good education, a stronger awareness of the serious threat of climate change, and a more positive experience with the COVID-19 lockdown.”

Knowledge of the correlation between COVID-19 and climate change can help policymakers develop ambitious climate policy measures.