Seven out of ten Cypriots say they’d be willing to pay more income tax to help lower-income households cope with the costs of green transition, while a little over half regard climate change impacts as a major concern, according to a just-released survey carried out by the European Investment Bank.

The findings are part of the EIB Climate Survey’s sixth edition, conducted in August and September 2023. Running since 2018, the EIB Climate Survey offers insights into the climate change-related views of people in major economies around the world, with more than 30,000 respondents in the European Union, the United States, China, India, Japan, the United Kingdom, UAE, Canada and South Korea.

“After another challenging year marked not only by inflation, but also by record heatwaves and droughts Cypriot respondents have become more acutely aware of the profound impact of climate change and the need for immediate action in Cyprus and around the world,” reads the introduction to the Cyprus section.

“While the rising cost of living is considered the number one challenge for Cypriots (68 per cent of respondents place it in the top three concerns for their country, in line with the EU average), climate change impacts and environmental degradation are not far behind, with 53 per cent considering them a major concern (3 points above the EU average).”

Cypriot respondents ranked inflation, climate and environmental issues, immigration and economic disparities as their four major challenges, in that order. Sixty-seven percent (very close to the EU average) say the transition to a low-carbon economy can only happen if social and economic inequalities are addressed at the same time.

Survey results showed that the vast majority of Cypriot respondents (70 per cent, 11 points above the EU average of 59 per cent) would be willing to pay more income tax to help lower-income households cope with the costs of a green transition. Fifty-four per cent would agree to pay an extra 1-2 per cent of their income, and 16 per cent would agree to an extra 5-10 per cent.

Most Cypriot respondents said they would also support other kinds of climate-related taxes. For example, 84 per cent said they would favour a fossil fuel tax reform to eliminate subsidies and tax breaks for the aviation sector and other industries that rely heavily on fossil fuels.

Commenting on the findings, EIB Vice-President Kyriacos Kakouris said:

“The latest EIB Climate Survey underlines Cypriots’ profound awareness of climate change and their commitment to tackle it head on. They recognise that a successful transition to a climate-neutral world goes hand in hand with addressing social and economic inequalities at home and globally. At the European Investment Bank, we are fully committed to supporting a just transition that leaves no one behind.”

On the question of compensation to developing countries to help them deal with the impacts of climate change – expected to be a central topic at the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai (COP28) – most Cypriot respondents favoured extending aid beyond their borders to support countries most vulnerable to climate change and ensure a globally just transition to a climate-neutral and resilient future.

Respondents had to select the three challenges they consider the biggest for their country from a shuffled list of ten challenges: increased cost of living, unemployment, climate change, environmental degradation, political instability, income inequalities, access to healthcare, large-scale migrations, cyberattacks, and terrorism.