Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Europeans say: Renewable energy? Yes please!

Yet another survey has revealed opposition to nuclear energy.

The Europe-wide poll showed almost half of EU citizens (48%) believe their national government should focus on developing solar power. 41% want promotion of advanced research for new energy technologies, and 31% developiment of wind power. Regulation for the reduction of dependence on oil (23%) and developing the use of nuclear power (12%) come lowest.

France has warned in response that abandoning nuclear would cause electricity prices in Europe to rise - but the obverse is actually true: building new nuclear stations would raise prices.

The poll also revealed that 47% wanted more energy decisions to be made at a European level. Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said "This gives us encouragement to work on this policy." EU heads of state will discuss the outlines of such a policy in March. It could cover issues from boosting renewable sources to harnessing the bloc's combined negotiating power for talks with foreign suppliers.

Europeans want help to save more energy

Results showed that about 25% of people think more efficient use of energy woould improve the performance of the European economy and that European citizens want to save energy but don't know how. 43% would like more information on efficient use of energy, and 40% support tax incentives (Colin Challen's tax on incandescent light bulbs and reducing VAT on insulation for example).

Eight out of 10 citizens say they take energy consumption into account when buying energy-using devices, higher when buying cars or refrigerators (almost 60% state they pay much attention) than for light bulbs (43%).

Despite significant variations between countries, it can be said that citizens seem to be more concerned about energy consumption in the new Member States than in the EU-15 group.

Behaviour concerning light bulbs is revealing: in the six countries where over half said they paid “a lot of attention”, five are new Member States: in Malta, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Italy almost 6 out of 10 stated that they paid a lot of attention to the energy consumption of light bulbs, while in Spain, Greece or Ireland this proportion decreases to 3 out of 10.

40% of Europeans say they would be prepared to pay more for energy from renewable sources (2 points more than in an earlier survey). 27% would even accept an increase of 5% (3 points more) and 13% a higher price rise. The evolution seems to confirm that the price “ceiling” is situated at a 5% price increase.

Residents in the new Member States are more reluctant to pay higher prices for “green energy” because of the economic situation or the unemployment rate.

Car use

When it comes to changing the habits of the use of cars, the rise in fuel prices seems to have an impact only if a certain ceiling (around 2€/litre) is reached: more than 2 out of 10 Europeans stated they would use their car “a lot less often” while 3 out of ten declared they would do so “a bit less often”.

Such a situation would really affect citizens in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Austria, where almost one third said they would be prepared to significantly reduce the use of cars/vehicles. On the other hand, Irish, Cypriots, Maltese, Dutch, and particularly Slovenians (between 36% and 47%) would use their cars as often.

The Eurobarometer survey covered almost 30,000 people, and was carried out in the 25 EU member countries as well as acceding and candidate states from Oct. 11 to Nov. 15 last year.

No comments: