Environmental consciousness of Ukrainians: figures and facts

Protection of the environment is personally important for 93% of Ukrainians, and 87% of citizens consider that they can personally contribute to environmental protection. These were the results of a sociological survey on the attitude of citizens to the environment, presented at a press briefing at the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center. The poll was carried out by sociological agency Fama for the request and in cooperation with the Resource and Analysis Center “Society and Environment” in May 2018 using “face to face” interviews method, covering 2000 residents of Ukraine aged 15 years and over. The poll covered all territory of Ukraine with the exception of temporary occupied territories of the Crimea and Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts.

People are worried the most about frequent droughts/floods (40.3% (the most in the East – 44.6%)), the increase in the amount of waste (37.4% (the most in the West – 52.2%)), population decline, species extinction and disappearance of ecosystems (34.8%), the lack of qualitative drinking water  (30% (the most in the South – 47%)). The majority of respondents do not see the connection between extreme weather conditions and climate change: climate change is considered to be a problem by 16.3% of respondents, while in Denmark 70% of the population are concerned about climate change.

The main responsibility for solving environmental problems in Ukraine should lie on the central government (37%), and local authorities (38%). Another 19% of respondents believe that environmental problems should be tackled in cooperation with the EU.

44.7% of respondents believe that the most effective method of solving environmental problems is the introduction of higher fines for violation of environmental legislation, as well as the introduction of financial incentives for people and business and raise awareness of how to move on to environmental practices. 83% of people believe that enterprises should be primarily responsible for the impact of their production processes on the environment.

71% of respondents told that they had implemented at least one environmental practice during the last month in their everyday life. In particular, 65% attempted to sort the garbage, 43% – to buy locally produced products, 43.5% reduced electricity consumption, 34% avoided disposable plastic products, 27% reduced water consumption, 25% tried to move more by bicycles or on foot. 10.4% of respondents do nothing for the environment.

Scientists (29%), TV (23%), environmental NGOs (22%) and international organisations (18%) became the “leaders of trust” for receiving information on environmental issues. The level of trust in the central government is 4%, in local authorities – 9%.  TV (63%) and the Internet (on average 39.4%, in the West the share is the highest – 49%) are the main sources of information.

“These high percentages are commensurate with the data in the EU. 93%of citizens in Ukraine consider that environmental issues are important. The average number in the EU is 94%. This means that we are in one valuable space on environmental issues, at least in our consciousness. However, environmental practices are much more common in everyday life of Europeans. But this situation is very positive, as changing the consciousness of citizens at the value level requires a lot of time, and we already have this component. It remains only to change our habits”, – said Nataliya Andrusevych, CEO of the Resource and Analytical Center “Society and Environment”.

“These figures indicate the priority of environmental problems in Ukrainian society, and I feel that this awareness among the citizens is changing faster than awareness among politicians. […] This research is a good tool for actualising environmental protection issues”, said Ostap Semerak, Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine, commenting on the results of the poll. “Synergy between the efforts of civil society and government at all levels is needed in order to get effective policies for problem-solving, and the Association Agreement is a good guideline on how to move and what to do”.

Ostap Semerak called for speeding up the adoption of secondary legislation for the implementation of the law on environmental impact assessment, noting that there are currently delays at the Cabinet level. “Perhaps the law is not comfortable for everyone in terms of realising their own priorities, but firstly, it is our commitment to the EU, and secondly, it is a new European practice of protecting the environmental rights of territorial communities and of each Ukrainian”, he said. He also reminded that he is awaiting consideration in the Verkhovna Rada of a law on increasing the penalties for environmental damage. “We must make efforts to change fines and strengthen the responsibility of all polluters by the end of the year”, the minister said.

Ostap Semerak also emphasised the need to ensure more efficient use of funds collected as an environmental tax. Of the approximately 4 billion hryvnias paid in 2017, 45% of the funds remained at the local level, and 300 million of those that went to the state budget, were directed on environmental protection measures.

Source: UCMC