Environment Microcensus This is what Austrians think about the environment and quality of life

The 2015 Environment Microcensus published in July 2017 – a survey conducted by Statistics Austria on environmental themes and quality of life – provides intriguing insights into the attitudes and behaviour of Austrians.

Positive appraisal of environmental quality

88% of the Austrians believe that the environmental quality is good, over 90% of Austrians rate the categories drinking water, water quality of lakes and rivers, availability of quality food and green space as good.

Compared to the last such survey conducted in 2011, the assessment of the noise situation has improved with 73.0% of the respondents rating it as good (2011: 71%). The availability of environmentally friendly products was introduced as a new category: 87% believe that availability is good.

Climate change and high traffic volumes are the most urgent environmental issues

For the respondents, the greenhouse effect and climate change (25.9%) as well as growing traffic volumes (23%) proportionately represented the most serious problems. There is increased awareness among people that growing traffic volumes and the destruction of nature and landscapes are problematic.

Younger people ascribe more importance to global environmental issues, such as the greenhouse effect and climate change, than older people.  A higher level of education also leads to greater awareness of global environmental problems.

Improved quality of life ratings

A growing number of people (49%) consider their own quality of life to be very good (compared to 45.6% in 2011). 48% of the population believe that their quality of life is "good".

Health status (82%), social network (69%) and housing situation (61%) are determining factors in their decision. The state of the environment (57%) is more important for quality of life than working conditions (43%) or level of income (36%). 35% believe that a balance between work and other spheres of life strongly determines their quality of life, while 29% of the respondents believe that time pressure is the determining factor.

Is economic growth necessary for a good life?

An intriguing question was dedicated to the necessity of economic growth for a good life. 49.9% of the Austrians believe that continuous economic growth is needed for us to have a good life. In 2011, 56.4% answered this question with "yes". However, 47.9% believe that the economy does not need to grow continuously for us to have a good life. As the level of education rises (from academic secondary school), a majority of the respondents (60% - 67% - depending on their education) do not consider economic growth to be a prerequisite for a good life.

Frequent decision to buy environmentally friendly products

83% of the Austrians bought organic fruit or vegetable in the past 12 months; 79.4% purchased bread, pastry and grain products whereas 78.2% bought organic milk and organic dairy products. The "seasonal" and "regional" criteria are crucial factors that play in on the decision to buy environmentally friendly or organic products. Over 80% of the population take these criteria into account.

With durable products, environmental friendliness also played into the purchase decision: 93.2% state that they bought energy-efficient, durable or repair-friendly refrigerators and freezers in the past 3 years (2011: 91.3%), 66.7% had purchased TV or video players (2011: 58.8%) and 44,6% computer devices (2011: 42.5%).

With consumer goods, around 85% stated that eco-/energy-efficiency labels were a key criterion in their purchase decision.

Out of all actual passenger car purchases in the past three years, 61.6% were environmentally friendly passenger cars (2011: 60.8%).

High level of waste separation continues

99% of the population state that they continue to separate waste paper. There was an increase in waste glass (from 97% in 2011 to 98% in 2015) and in organic waste from 84% to 85%.

2015 microcensus on environmental conditions and environmental behaviour

The publication, which Statistics Austria draws up in three- to five-year cycles at the behest of the Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism, provides a comprehensive overview of how Austrian households rate specific environmental factors such as noise (visit laerminfo.at), odours and dust. In addition, the publication highlights how environmentally relevant considerations play in on people's behaviour, for instance when shopping, in mobility, waste separation or on holiday.

Thus, the results offer valuable indications as to the subjective feelings of Austrians with respect to their environment and offer an important part of the overall picture drawn by objective environmental data.

Further information is available on the website of Statistik Austria (only in German)