Election rebellion: 82% of people will think of the environment when they vote next month

What candidates promise to do to protect the natural world is an important issue for 82% of people heading to the polls this May.

Polling by Ipsos, commissioned by the European Climate Foundation, shows that protecting the natural world, making farming sustainable and improving air quality are all important issues for a large majority of voters.

Healthy food and farming is a key concern for voters across Europe. Illustration: Gemma Bowcock / EEB

The polling also found that 77% of people see climate change as an important issue when picking the party they will vote for next month.

The polling was released in the same week as teenage climate campaigner Greta Thunberg visited the European Parliament and people in Brussels, London and elsewhere blocked major streets as part of the Extinction Rebellion movement.

Thunberg arrived in Strasbourg by train to tell current MEPs:

“I want you to act like the house is on fire”

She went on to urge people to turn out to vote at the European elections saying:

“It’s essential to vote at the elections. I can’t, but it’s important for those that can.”

Earlier in the week key points in cities across Europe were blocked by people demanding action to end the sixth great extinction and drastically cut emissions.

The ‘Extinction Rebellion’ movement was formed in the UK but has spread elsewhere around the world with actions taking place in major cities across the EU.

Environment and climate action look set to become major issues at the European elections being held between 23-26 May this year.

Two recent reports by the Institute of European Environmental Policy (IEEP) and the Climate Action Network Europe have compared the environmental and climate policies and records of European political groups.

The IEEP examined the manifestos of the European parties and found that while the socialists (PES), liberals (ALDE) and greens (EGP) were all promising more ambitious climate targets, the conservatives (EPP) failed to even mention the 1.5°C warming target set in the Paris Agreement.

CAN-Europe’s report ranked political groups as either ‘defenders’, ‘delayers’ or ‘dinosaurs’ based on their voting records over the past five years.

Manfred Weber, lead candidate of the European Peoples Party, which was labelled a dinosaur by CAN, enjoyed a photo opportunity with Thunberg on Wednesday.