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Nuclear power, climate change and energy security: Exploring British public attitudes

  • Corner, Adam
  • Venables, Dan
  • Spence, Alexa
  • Poortinga, Wouter
  • Demski, Christina
  • Pidgeon, Nick
Registered author(s):

    Public attitudes towards nuclear power in the UK have historically been deeply divided, but as concern about climate change and energy security has exerted an increasing influence on British energy policy, nuclear power has been reframed as a low-carbon technology. Previous research has suggested that a significant proportion of people may 'reluctantly accept' nuclear power as a means of addressing the greater threat of climate change. Drawing on the results of a national British survey (n=1822), the current study found that attitudes towards nuclear remain divided, with only a minority expressing unconditional acceptance. In general, people who expressed greater concern about climate change and energy security and possessed higher environmental values were less likely to favour nuclear power. However, when nuclear power was given an explicit 'reluctant acceptance' framing - allowing people to express their dislike for nuclear power alongside their conditional support - concerns about climate change and energy security became positive predictors of support for nuclear power. These findings suggest that concern about climate change and energy security will only increase acceptance of nuclear power under limited circumstances--specifically once other (preferred) options have been exhausted.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421511004939
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Energy Policy.

    Volume (Year): 39 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 9 (September)
    Pages: 4823-4833

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:39:y:2011:i:9:p:4823-4833
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/enpol

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    1. Chester, Lynne, 2010. "Conceptualising energy security and making explicit its polysemic nature," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 887-895, February.
    2. Watson, Jim & Scott, Alister, 2009. "New nuclear power in the UK: A strategy for energy security?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(12), pages 5094-5104, December.
    3. Teräväinen, Tuula & Lehtonen, Markku & Martiskainen, Mari, 2011. "Climate change, energy security, and risk--debating nuclear new build in Finland, France and the UK," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 3434-3442, June.
    4. Greenberg, Michael, 2009. "Energy sources, public policy, and public preferences: Analysis of US national and site-specific data," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 3242-3249, August.
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