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News article19 February 2021

The Green Deal through the eyes of Europeans

EInterest in energy consumption in EU-27 (average 2015-2019
Interest in energy consuption in EU-27 (average 2015-2019)
© European Union, 2021

Trends in web searches show that citizens in the European Union are slowly, but steadily more and more interested in green solutions in their lives.

Here the main findings from the recently released report Tracking EU Citizens’ Interest in EC Priorities Using Online Search Data.

  • Over the last five years, interest in green mobility has been slowly but steadily increasing. This is particularly true for individual and public transport. In 2020, the trend was heavily affected by the sanitary crisis. Google searches for public transport and shared mobility dramatically decreased without recovering to pre-pandemic levels.
  • The increase in searches related to vegetarian and vegan food reflects the growing popularity of these dietary choices. Indeed, European average meat consumption, which now stands at about 69 kilograms per capita per year, is expected to fall by a kilogram over the next ten years according to the EU agricultural outlook.
  • In 2020, confinement measures due to the pandemic caused a huge drop in energy demand and delayed new renewable energy sources installations. Despite that, Google searches on renewable energy sources reached the highest interest in May this year. Among the topics in sub-dimensions related to clean energy, solar energy is the most-searched one.
  • Searches for topics related to pollution have been mostly stable over the last few years. The pandemic brought an unexpected positive outcome by increasing the awareness of air pollution and its negative consequences, and early evidence suggests that this effect will not be short-lived.
  • Searches related to climate change peaked towards the end of 2016. This peak comes shortly after the entry into force of the Paris agreement. Another peak comes during the Global Week of Climate Action and shortly after Greta Thunberg’s speech at the United Nations Climate Action Summit on September 23rd 2019.

About the indicators in this report
Using web searches performed on the Google search engine, the JRC created two sets of indicators drawing from the six policy areas indicated by the European Commission for the Green Deal. The first set of indicators captures online search data related to citizens’ behaviour in the context of the European Green Deal, such as their searches related to mobility, energy, waste and nutrition. The second set of indicators captures online search data on citizens’ awareness, such as those about pollution, clean energy, ecosystems and climate.
The indicators can be used to obtain causal insights, both at the regional and national level. For example, searches for low-emission vehicles in Italy surged following the implementation, by regional authorities, of economic incentives to replace old and high-emission cars. Searches for public transport instead dropped during the pandemic, not only as a result of containment measures but also because of self-imposed cautionary measure

About the European Green Deal
The European Green Deal is the most ambitious and challenging goal set by the European Commission. Aiming to make the European Union, the world’s second-largest economy, climate-neutral by 2050, the European Green Deal will transform EU societies and industries. Read more on the European Green Deal

Interested in learning more? Follow the webinar on the report


Publication date
19 February 2021