Knowledge about air pollution
Generally speaking, knowledge is regarded as an important, if not sufficient, condition for environmentally-aware behaviour. People who do not know anything about the functionality and impacts of air pollution will hardly be able to adequately assess the associated risks, and if they are not aware of the available options for taking action, they will probably not adopt the appropriate behaviour even if they are able to assess the involved risks.
Furthermore, knowledge on the part of the general population is also an indicator for the existence of a general interest in issues relating to air pollution.
In 2015, in response to the question, “Which are the three most important measures for reducing air pollution?”, only 56 percent of the participants in the survey were able to name 3 measures, while 4 percent were either unable or unwilling to name any measures at all.
The most frequently cited measures concerned the areas of mobility (20 percent of all answers), energy (17 percent) and technology (10 percent). Although to some extent these answers concern objectives rather than specific measures (reduction of energy consumption or emissions), they are nonetheless correct and indicate that the participants have already preoccupied themselves with the problem of air pollution. 21 percent of all answers were very general in nature and tended to refer to environmental protection as a whole (e.g. take care of nature, increase own responsibility) or to other political aspects. It is assumed that people who have named one or more such measures possess little action-relevant knowledge relating to the reduction of air pollution.
As in the past, respondents were asked to assess the development of air quality over the past 10 years. Half of all the respondents expressed the (correct) view that air quality had improved, and a roughly equal number felt that it had deteriorated. This indicates that information regarding the considerable progress that has been made in the area of air pollution control has been communicated adequately to the general population.
The results show that a large proportion of the population have already preoccupied themselves with the issue of air pollution. However, the fact that roughly half the participants in the survey were unable to cite three measures, and just as many people wrongly assessed the development of air pollution in the past few years, indicates that the level of knowledge is still limited. In view of this, the indicator has been classified as neutral.
The results are based on a nation-wide telephone survey conducted by gfs-zürich. A total of 1,013 people were questioned, who were selected on the basis of a random sample procedure. The random sample complies with the principle of representativeness.
The survey encompasses various aspects of environmental pollution, as well as knowledge of, and attitude towards, certain environmental issues.
The wording of the question concerning knowledge about air pollution was: “Which are the three most important measures for reducing air pollution?”. No multiple choice answers were provided. Both the reduction of transport, energy consumption and emissions, as well as the most important specific activities that give rise to such reductions (e.g. “more frequent use of public transport”, “less use of heating”) are evaluated as correct answers. In addition to explicitly incorrect answers, non-specific answers that can generally be applied to all aspects of environmental protection or other political issues (e.g. “increasing personal responsibility”, “taking care of nature”, “other countries should do something”) are regarded as an indicator for a lack of knowledge.