Poll: World wants green action, despite costs
Sixty-nine percent of those polled in 21 countries say utility firms should be obliged to use more renewable resources, even if this would increase their monthly bills.
A wide majority of the world’s citizens are unhappy with the slow pace of their governments’ moves toward renewable energy and want their leaders to do more, even if that raises their utility bills, according to a global opinion poll released today.Skip to next paragraph
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The finding sends a clear signal to officials at next month’s climate change meeting in Poznan, Poland, scheduled to lay the groundwork for a 2009 international treaty to limit greenhouse-gas emissions.
“Governments have left a lot on the table in terms of public readiness to take action,” says Steven Kull, head of the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, which conducted the 21-nation poll.
“I was struck by the consistency and strength of support” for greater reliance on solar and wind power to generate electricity, he adds. “People think of this as an investment and a transition. They are optimistic.”
Seventy-seven percent said their governments should put more emphasis on solar and wind energy systems, and 69 percent said utility companies should be obliged to use more renewable energy sources “even if this increases the cost of energy in the short run.”
Fifty-eight percent also said they were ready to pay higher prices for goods if the money was used to help businesses use energy more sparingly.
In the long run, two-thirds of respondents felt a major shift to alternative sources of energy would save money rather than hurt the economy.
Concerns about oil supplies
Behind these figures, says Dr. Kull, lie fears of climate change and worries about the reliability and cost of oil supplies. “That has caused people to look to alternatives,” he says.
“Energy security and climate change loom large” in many parts of the world, adds Antony Froggatt, an energy specialist at the Chatham House think tank in London. “Renewables and energy efficiency simultaneously address both concerns.”
At the same time, the poll also seems to suggest that increasing numbers of people believe that a shift away from fossil fuel toward renewable energy sources offers practical and immediate economic benefits.
Barack Obama’s victory in the recent US presidential elections was a signal of this trend, argues Keith Schneider, spokesman for the Apollo Alliance of businesses, unions, and environmentalists in the US, which advocates rapid development of “clean technology.”
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