The study was led by Livia Fritz, a researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), who focuses on climate change’s social and political aspects.
The online survey was conducted between October 25 and November 19, 2019, and included randomly chosen people from various backgrounds. The only requirement was to be an adult below 74 and have an internet connection to complete the survey.
The number of people who participated in the study was 1,219. However, thirteen participants were excluded because their responses had been given too quickly and needed to meet the quality requirements set by the researchers.
The final number of evaluated responses was 1,206. The participants were aged 18 to 74 and divided evenly between males and females. As highlighted by the led researcher, the study was conducted on those who had not taken part in the strikes.
“We looked specifically at people in Switzerland who didn’t take part in the protests,” said Fritz. “We wanted to see if the movement resulted in concrete changes in their behaviour.”
The results show how much Great Thunberg and the climate movement have influenced the behaviour of Swiss citizens.
A study by @LiviaFritz and @HERUS_EPFL found that Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future climate strikes have influenced the environmental behavior of Swiss residents. https://t.co/se2CI2KD5U@EPFL_en #FridaysForFuture #environment
— EPFL-ENAC (@epflENAC) September 8, 2023
More than 30% of the participants changed their behaviour due to Greta Thunberg’s activism. However, when asked whether their behavioural changes resulted from the climate movement itself, only a fourth of the participants replied positively.
This means that the Fridays for Future movement has surely impacted Swiss citizens —and not only them— but Greta Thunberg was actually the one who influenced them more.
Vi barn gör ju oftast inte som ni säger åt oss att göra, vi gör som ni gör. Och eftersom ni vuxna skiter i min framtid, så gör jag det med.
Jag skolstrejkar för klimatet fram till valdagen. pic.twitter.com/OyIvpdBiEq
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) August 20, 2018
The main change areas were mobility, food and goods consumption, and waste. However, the behavioural changes that required a consistent upfront economic investment were mentioned only by a small fraction of participants.
The authors of this study suggested that “political action is needed to stabilise the reported pro-environmental behaviour changes as well as to create favourable conditions for more far-reaching changes in everyday practices and lifestyles.”
Related articles: 5 Years of Climate Strikes: How Fridays for Future Changed the World | Do We Even Care? European Countries’ Attitude Towards Climate Change | ‘The Big One’: Extinction Rebellion Lead Massive Climate Protest in London
It is also important to note that the study reflected only participants’ perceptions. As stated by Fritz, “[o]ur study looked only at the perception people have of their behaviour – we didn’t go out and verify their statements.”
Nonetheless, the results show a growing awareness of our actions. “[O]ur findings showed that people have become more aware of how their behaviour affects the environment and that significant shifts are underway at an individual level.”
Fridays for Future, the movement started by a Swedish teenager who criticised politicians for not putting enough effort into the fight against climate change, has become one of the biggest climate movements of recent years.
We can only hope its influence will grow stronger by the day and push politicians to take the necessary steps to address the climate crisis properly.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com — In the Featured Photo: Greta Thunberg on stage during Fridays For Future at Medborgarplatsen in Stockholm on February 14, 2020. Featured Photo Credit: Frankie Fouganthin.