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Before Record Heat, EU and UK Tepid on Environment Efforts

Before Record Heat, EU and UK Tepid on Environment Efforts

Story Highlights

  • 48% across EU and U.K. dissatisfied with efforts to preserve environment
  • 51% of Britons dissatisfied with U.K. efforts
  • 58% in Spain and 69% in Greece also dissatisfied

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Record-high temperatures and wildfires have wracked the United Kingdom and countries across the European Union in recent days, leaving emergency services scrambling and people struggling to stay cool.

In 2021, before the recent heat wave, a median of 48% across countries in the EU plus the U.K. were dissatisfied with efforts to preserve the environment in their countries -- which is higher than where it has been for most of the past decade.


Still, the public was largely divided on the issue before the recent heat wave. A median of 50% of residents were satisfied with efforts to preserve the environment in 2021, little changed from 2019 and 2020 levels.

However, satisfaction is down substantially from the record-high 63% in 2015. Since then, the EU and U.K. have experienced a series of wildfires and floods that have devastated large swaths of land and displaced hundreds of thousands of people. Majorities of the populations in several of the countries severely affected by the recent rising temperatures -- including the U.K., Spain and Greece -- were dissatisfied with efforts to preserve the environment.

Majority of Britons Dissatisfied With Efforts to Preserve Environment

On Tuesday, the U.K. broke the country's all-time-record high temperature, hitting 104.5 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat wave associated with this record high has disrupted life in the country, even buckling a runway at an airport.

Before the current heat wave, a slim majority of Britons (51%) surveyed in 2021 were dissatisfied with the country's efforts to preserve the environment. This marked the first time in Gallup's 16-year trend that this percentage topped 50%.


Before 2019, clear majorities of Britons were satisfied with the country's efforts to preserve the environment, except for 2007. In 2019, amid a severe drought in the country, dissatisfaction rose to 47%, up from 36% the previous year. This increase showed the country essentially split on the issue, where it has largely remained since.

Majority of Spaniards Dissatisfied With Environmental Preservation Efforts

Spain has been one of the countries hardest hit by wildfires raging across Europe in recent weeks. Before the current wave of fires, a majority of Spaniards, 58%, were dissatisfied with their country's efforts to preserve the environment. The current 58% is down modestly from the 62% of Spaniards who said they were dissatisfied in 2020.


Roughly Seven in 10 Greeks Dissatisfied With Their Country's Efforts

Wildfires have also ravaged Greece in recent weeks. For Greeks, this is the second year in a row that wildfires have devastated their country. This recent experience with environmental disasters is likely sustaining Greeks' already high levels of dissatisfaction with environmental efforts in the country, with 69% dissatisfied in 2021.


Clear majorities of Greeks have been dissatisfied with their country's efforts to preserve the environment for more than a decade. The current 69% is about average for Gallup's trend but is still much lower than the 84% of Greeks who were dissatisfied in 2009. That reading came after 2008 forest fires that threatened outlying neighborhoods in Athens and caused power outages across the city.

Bottom Line

The recent heat wave and spate of wildfires may translate into higher dissatisfaction with efforts to preserve the environment in the countries affected -- and perhaps across the larger region. However, it is unclear if this will trigger a larger response from the governments involved, who are juggling a host of challenges that may take priority. In particular, increased fuel prices or even shortages due to disruptions caused by the Ukraine war may force governments to rely on less environmentally friendly energy sources.

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For complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.

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