Climate change adaptation and mitigation are the two main pillars of effective climate policies. Nevertheless, despite the importance of a comprehensive adaptation strategy for Austria’s tourism and agricultural sectors, large parts of the media and the public ignore this topic.
Last year, I participated in a survey on “Climate change adaptation in Austria” conducted by the Environmental Agency Austria and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management. The first findings of the survey paint an interesting picture:
489 Austrian women and 673 Austrian men took this chance to contribute their views to the development of a national adaptation strategy. It is great that 21-30 year olds were the most prominent age group, indicating that climate change is the central issue of my generation. Moreover, 31-50 year olds were another strong group who recognized climate change adaptation as an important issue for themselves as well as their children.
The wide array of responses highlights the importance of the issue and people’s interest in personal opportunities for action, whether it comes to climate protection, environmental protection, sustainable development or behavioral changes in their lifestyles. Phrases like “one-world-problems”, “bridging between political and individual responsibility” or “citizen engagement” show that a comprehensive and participatory approach to adaptation is necessary.
The preliminary results are also impressive when it comes to numbers: For the majority of respondents, climate change is a very serious problem and they don’t feel informed about possibilities for adaptation. Therefore, it is of utmost importance for politics and civil society to remove this information deficit.
But this is where politicians fail: 88% of respondents think that politicians don’t do enough in terms of climate change adaptation despite widespread public support (95% of respondents are willing to make behavioral changes in their lifestyles). 87% of respondents also think that adaptation measures can have positive effects on the economy and on society.
These results clearly show that Austria’s population is ready to act as it has recognized the economic and social chances of future-oriented climate and energy policies. Despite this promising starting point, we should be aware, that this issue hasn’t reached media and the public which is also reflected in the respondents’ educational level.