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Environmental Awareness Study 2018 Final Report

The Environmental Awareness Study has been in existence since 1996 and was conducted for the twelfth time in 2018. It was commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment and the Federal Environment Agency to investigate the environmental awareness and environmental behavior of the population in Germany. The purpose of this report is to present the methodological approach, the most important results and to document previously unpublished sub-reports.

The monitoring of environmental awareness over the past 30 years reveals three major phases in the population's perception of environmental and climate problems. While a strong perception of environmental problems could be identified before 1990, this was increasingly overshadowed by migration, economic and financial market issues in the following years. It was not until 2018 - particularly in connection with the Fridays for Future movement - that the problems of environmental and climate protection gained a new prominence. In terms of environmental issues perceived, in the 1970s and 1980s the focus was on environmental protection issues regarding local pollution of air and water. This was followed by issues such as forest degradation, the hole in the ozone layer, nuclear energy, and eco and energy taxes. In recent years, the focus has primarily been on climate change. 

The increasing relevance of environmental and climate issues among the population is also reflected in other fields of environmental awareness. For example, the quality of the environment locally and in Germany is assessed less positively compared with 2016. Fürthermore, environmental and climate protection is classified as a fundamental task in other policy areas, especially energy, agriculture and transport. The respondents also state a great dissatisfaction with the responsibility taken by the governments at the federal and state levels.

In addition to the studies results, the report concludes with suggestions for the development of future environmental awareness studies. A plurality of survey methods and questions is advocated. Focus groups and multi-method groups as well as interim surveys and age-specific studies have proven to be useful supplements to the main survey.

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