World Willing to Pay More for Green Energy

Published on
by
Inter Press Service

World Willing to Pay More for Green Energy

by
Wolfgang Kerler

These wind turbines at a USDA research lab in Texas generate power for submersible electric water pumps. (Credit:US Department of Agriculture)

NEW YORK - A new poll by
WorldPublicOpinion.org, a global network of research centres, finds
that a majority of people in 21 nations support greater use of
alternative energies like wind and solar and modifications to make
buildings more energy efficient, even if costs more in the short term.

"People
perceive that oil is running out and that it is necessary to take steps
right away to replace it as a source of energy," Steven Kull, director
of WorldPublicOpinion.org, told IPS. "They really think in the long
run."

An average of 77 percent of respondents thought policy-makers should
require utilities to invest more in alternative energy, with country
results ranging from 50 percent support in Russia to 89 percent in
South Korea.

With an average agreement of 74 percent, almost the same enthusiasm was
shown for greater efforts to make buildings more energy efficient. The
lowest support, 54 percent, was found in the Palestinian Territories,
while an overwhelming 89 percent of French and British want to see
stronger commitments by their governments.

In contrast, fewer than half of the nations polled favour more emphasis
on nuclear energy, coal or oil to meet energy demands in the future.
Only in Kenya, Argentina, Jordan and Nigeria did researchers find more
than 50-percent support for building new coal- and oil-fired power
plants.

However, the average support for new coal and oil-fired plans
lies at 40 percent, while only 33 percent say coal and oil should be
deemphasised. With 40 to 30 percent, a question on the construction of
new nuclear power plants found very similar results. Still, overall
support for alternative energies is much higher.

"It is quite remarkable that there is such unanimity around the world
that governments should address the problem of energy by emphasising
alternative energy sources and greater efficiency," Kull said. "Equally
remarkable is how little the governments around the world are following
the public's lead."

Confronted with a possible short-run cost increase for greener
energy, an average of 69 percent of respondents still thought their
governments should take this step.

Asking businesses to use energy more efficiently found an average
agreement of 58 percent -- compared to 38 percent against it -- even if
it leads to higher product prices.

An extra charge to buy models of appliances and cars that are not
energy efficient also found majority support, with 48 percent in favour
to 39 percent against on average.

"It is striking that support for alternative energies and
energy efficiency slips only modestly when the cost is highlighted,"
Kull commented. "People are definitely willing to do more than they are
doing right now."

In all participating nations, more people share the opinion
that the shift towards alternative sources of energy would save money
in the long run, resulting in an average support of 66 percent for this
position. Only 21 percent expect a lasting economic decline because of
the high costs an energy shift may bring.

However, Kull warned against overly high expectations by stressing that "support is not limitless".

In countries where governments had already taken action against
climate change and for energy efficiency -- such as Germany and Italy
-- the number of people willing to pay more for renewable energy was
slightly lower than in countries where such measures have not been high
on the government's agenda so far.

Another finding of the poll is that people in oil-exporting
countries like Russia, Azerbaijan and Indonesia are more critical of
alternative energies than people from oil-importing countries.

As a possible explanation, Kull mentioned that "these countries of
course benefit from the use of oil and might be afraid that alternative
energies could lead to devaluation of their product." Besides, "the
energy problem is less pressuring" in oil-producing countries, he said.

Some 20,790 respondents from 21 nations were interviewed by researchers
participating in the WorldPuplicOpinion.org project between Jul. 15 and
Nov. 4. The list of countries included some of the largest nations like
China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Nigeria and Russia.

Interviews were also conducted in Argentina, Azerbaijan, France,
Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, the Palestinian
Territories, Poland, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey, and Ukraine.
Furthermore, research centres talked to respondents in Taiwan, Hong
Kong, and Macau.

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