‘Belgians worried but not willing to pay for climate’
Although 70% of Flemish respondents say they’re worried sick about global warming, still 60% indicates not to be willing to pay more taxes for it. This remarkable contradiction in the answers of the interviewees came out of the ‘large-scale climate survey’ by iVox and ordered by newscast, VTM Nieuws, and newspaper, Het Laatste Nieuws.
Some 33% say they’re ready to pay but even then they’re not particularly motivated. Half of them don’t even want to pay more than 5% at all.
The same paradox is visible in answers about electricity and food. Almost 70% in Flanders wants to use green electricity but not at a higher price. 75% is willing to eat locally cultivated fruit and vegetables but 62% doesn’t want to pay more for them.
How can we eliminate this contradiction? “By telling people it will even cost us more not to do anything at all”, is the answer.
“I’m not surprised by this outcome”, says Jill Peeters, weather forecaster and climate specialist. “Belgians still have a conservative view on what solutions for the climate might cost. In Finland, for instance, people think it’s obvious that tackling global warming will cost us money, they even see it as an investment.”
According to climate scientist, Wim Thierry, we already feel the financial consequences today. “Take the heat wave of last summer. Farmers who were victim of the situation got a compensation for it, so we already pay extra taxes as a consequence of climate change.”
Another phenomenon is that people also are slightly getting fed up with all negative communication, says Peeters. “Why not emphasizing the positive aspects? Let’s make flying more expensive but trains more affordable. Why keeping on putting tax money in fossil fuels and polluting sectors, instead of more supporting companies and sectors that are focusing at sustainability?”
Another phenomenon is ‘climate fatigue’, and 60% of Flemish respondents say that the climate activists can stop their actions. “They’ve made their point.”
Peeters as well as Thierry feel the tide of public opinion is slightly turning, though. “The abstract scientific climate problem is becoming more and more concrete and tangible. This will make people realize they will have to be ready to really act and invest in concrete solutions”, Thierry concludes.