On March 7 2019 an article called ‘sustainable thinkers are often the biggest polluters’ was published by the Dutch RTL News. In that article, they link pollution to sustainable thinking. Sustainable thinkers would be above-average polluters. This is what the author of this article wrongly concludes from a research of Peter Kanne, member of I&O Research. Kanne examined the sustainable thinking and doing of the Dutch.
For this fact check we spoke with Peter Kanne.
The following is stated in the lead of the article: “It appears that sustainable thinkers are above-average polluters. That has been shown by an inquiry by I&O Research commissioned by the Home Office.” But what is stated, is mostly false. The inquiry does not show that sustainable thinkers are the biggest polluters.
According to the inquiry, high-educated people emit more CO2 then low-educated people, even though the high-educated people are more concerned about the climate. That is in fact what is stated in the article. There is a but though. You cannot conclude that sustainable thinkers emit more CO2 than non-sustainable thinkers. Kanne: “No straight correlation has been made between the way people think and how much CO2 they emit.”
Kanne did examine the correlation between voting behavior and the emission of CO2 (see figure below).
CO2-emisson in points in relation to the voting behavior TK2017, source: I&O Research
Certain groups who are more concerned about the climate, for example higher-educated D66-voters, fly more often and drive their car more often than the average Dutch person. That is one of the reasons why they emit more.
GL-, CU-, and PvdD-voters are sustainable thinkers too, but they are found low on the list of CO2-emitters. So, certain sustainable thinkers do in fact act sustainably. “In general, we can say that most Dutch people feel like something has to change in terms of CO2-emission, but they don’t act like it”, says Kanne.
The inquiry of I&O Research is not saying that the sustainability conscious Dutch are the biggest polluters. They do pollute above average, but others do not. That’s why we conclude that the RTL News article is mostly false.
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