Public attitudes and action on energy and climate change: 2023

Publication date: September 2023


Our market research programme monitors the mood of the nation relating to climate change, energy emissions and efficiency, and topics like electric vehicles. Every quarter, we survey 750 adult New Zealanders to track their beliefs, behaviours and attitudes to energy use and climate change. This survey canvassed New Zealanders from April – June 2023.


Most New Zealanders are feeling the impact of the cost of living, so it’s no surprise it’s been top-of-mind for people, sitting well ahead of environmental concerns when it comes to what’s important to New Zealanders right now.

However, more people are thinking about climate change – and the cost associated with taking climate friendly action.

New Zealanders said they are more likely to associate higher costs with taking action, despite many actions being cost-neutral and, often, cost saving.

Nearly all New Zealanders are feeling the impact of the cost of living

The cost-of-living increase is being felt by 85% of people to some degree. The impact has been significant for around half of the population.


Climate change is increasingly on New Zealanders' minds

More than a third of people are thinking about climate change more than they were a year ago, and this finding is universal across all ages, incomes and genders.

  • 12% think about it less often
  • 52% think about it the same amount
  • 36% think about it more often

More people associate climate action with cost

There is a trend among both age and income when associating actions with money:

  • As age increases there is a stronger perception that taking action comes with a financial cost (younger New Zealanders aged under 35 are the least likely to think this).
  • Those with annual household incomes under $60k are least likely to see cost-saving benefits of taking action.

48% of people will only take climate-friendly action if it saves them money


Climate action can save costs

Despite the view the climate action costs money, there are several actions people view as cost saving, and most of these have high potential to reduce emissions, including limiting fossil-fuelled car use and limiting energy use at home.

However, most of these cost- and emissions-savings actions are not among those that New Zealanders say they could realistically do more often – just 35% of people say they could reduce their car use.

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EECA will publish new reports each quarter to track how attitudes and actions are changing.

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