The French aspire to change the model of society but are caught in contradictory injunctions #636


The various ADEME barometers show that the French are aware of the climate emergency and the need to change their lifestyles. However, this change requires an in-depth reorganization of the economic and political model.

The French are very concerned about climate change, the anthropogenic cause of which is no longer in doubt. In 2022, 81% believe that global warming is caused by human activities (the highest level ever). Uncertainty about the reasons for climate disorder has fallen from 49% in 2001 to 18% in 20221. But while individual practices in favour of the environment are evolving, the French are caught up in contradictory injunctions. To facilitate changes in lifestyles, structural transformations in the economic and political model are necessary. The French expect public authorities and companies to do more to combat climate change.
Awareness of the need to change lifestyles

Despite “rising prices” emerging as a concern at an unprecedented level (+30 pts compared to 2021), the threat of climate change remains very much on people’s minds. The environment remains the second most important issue in France. And the greenhouse effect/climate change has reached a record level of environmental concern with 43% (+9 pts). Moreover, 51% of French people now say that they have “often or sometimes” suffered the consequences of climate change (compared to 27% in 2015). Global warming has now become a tangible reality for many.

Overall, the French are pessimistic about the consequences of global warming. 72% consider that “living conditions will become extremely difficult in the next 50 years” (this is +8 pts compared to 2021 and the highest level observed in this barometer). Similarly, when asked whether climate change will remain limited to reasonable levels by the end of the century, the degree of optimism has decreased significantly: from 40% in 2014 to 33% today. In order to limit this phenomenon, the proposition “We will have to significantly change our lifestyles” is widely supported: 56% on average over the period 2006-2021, compared with 62% this year, far ahead of the technological solution (11%): “Technical progress will make it possible to find solutions”.

In fact, changes can be observed at the individual level, particularly concerning energy consumption and savings in the home. For example, “lowering the temperature of your home by two or three degrees in winter or limiting the air conditioning to 26°C” concerned less than half of the respondents until 2017. Today, this practice is reported by two thirds of respondents (67%). Similarly, more than half of respondents say they “consume less” (53%, 15 points more than in 2017), or limit their meat consumption (51%, +9 points in 5 years). In addition, 49% say they limit their purchases of new products, 42% prefer second-hand or used goods and 24% prefer to rent or borrow rather than buy.
In general, 76% say they are committed to more responsible consumption (+4 pts compared to 2021): 63% say they have changed certain everyday practices to reduce the impact of their consumption and 13% say they are doing everything they can to reduce their impact and raise awareness among others.
The desire to live in a less consumerist society and to change the economic model

The barometers also show a growing desire to review the dominant economic model and to live in a society where consumption takes up less space. In 2022, 78% of French people express the wish to see society transformed, an increase of 5 points since last year. 40% want a radical change. According to another survey, 93% would like to review part or all of the economic system and get away from the myth of infinite growth. 83% would like to live in a society where consumption takes up less space, and 87% believe that rather than innovating at all costs, we should go back to basics and common sense.

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