Most people in Ireland understand the basic science of climate change but are unclear about how everyday activities contribute to it.

The majority say climate change worries them when the question is put to them, but almost two-thirds do not mention it as a key concern unless prompted.

Most underestimate the negative effect of agriculture on climate despite it producing more than a third of the country’s greenhouse gases.

They over-estimate the benefits of relatively low-impact practices such as recycling. More people wrongly thought it worse to put recycling waste in the general household bin than to continue driving or eating meat. 

The findings come from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) which questioned 1,000 people on their knowledge of climate change and policies designed to address it.

Some of the questions were asked before it was revealed the main thrust of the exercise was to discover views on climate change.

While 70pc of participants ultimately declared themselves worried about the impact of climate change in Ireland, only 37pc put it among the top five most pressing issues facing the country when they did not know the rationale behind the survey.

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