British Surveyed on Future of Energy Policy

A recent survey of the British public’s attitudes toward future energy options revealed high levels of concern about climate change. While polls over the past four years have shown a gradual lessening of opposition to replacing nuclear power stations, the new results still show more opposition than support.

The data reveal that most people believe that promoting renewable energy sources (78%), and reducing energy use through lifestyle changes and energy efficiency (76%), are better ways of tackling climate change than nuclear power. Part of the government’s impending energy review will consider whether the UK needs to replace its aging nuclear power stations as one way toward achieving its climate change objectives. Professor Nick Pidgeon, who led the survey research team, explained that “the government has already recognized the need to take public acceptability into account when exploring our future energy options.” He added, “The survey findings suggest that, given the numbers who are still opposed to renewal of nuclear power, there remains considerable potential for conflict around this issue.” A few of the detailed survey findings on public sentiment about climate change follow: — 62% of respondents indicated that every possible action should be taken to limit climate change, and a further 32% that some action should be taken. The public believes changes in behavior to reduce energy consumption (69%), and expanding use of renewables (68%) and of energy efficient technologies (54%) are the best ways of tackling climate change. — 34% of adults now think that Britain’s existing nuclear power stations should be replaced, while the same proportion do not want them replaced when they reach the end of their lives. Only 9% want to see the number of nuclear stations increased, while 15% would close all existing stations today. — 54% of people would be willing to accept the building of new nuclear power stations if it would help to tackle climate change, and 48% agreed that the nation needs nuclear power because renewables alone are not able to meet its electricity needs. The survey was carried out jointly by researchers from the Centre for Environmental Risk and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, in conjunction with Ipsos MORI. Research was jointly funded by The Leverhulme Trust (www.leverhulme.org.uk), the Economic and Social Research Council (www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk) and The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research (www.tyndall.ac.uk).
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