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Europeans' interest in the 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.
To support the European Commission in this effort, the JRC used web searches to create two sets of indicators to monitor Europeans’ interest in the subjects related to 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.


Key findings

  • 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 2020. 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.
  • 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 measures.

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Valentina ALBERTI