CARDIFF U. (UK)—Despite a decline in concern about climate change, the majority of the British public still believe the climate is changing and are prepared to act, a new survey shows.

As the new government begins to get to grips with the task of meeting its climate change obligations while also renewing the energy supply system for Britain, the survey from Cardiff University offers a snapshot of public opinion.

“The country is faced with a range of critical decisions on both climate change and energy production and use which will affect us all,” says Nick Pidgeon, professor of environment psychology.

“Whether new nuclear power, major wind farms, or encouraging people to conserve energy, we need to understand how public attitudes will impact on decisions. This new research helps us to understand how public views on these issues are changing.”

The study, that surveyed a representative sample of 1,822 people across England, Scotland, and Wales, reports that the majority are most concerned with energy security, with 81 percent concerned that the UK will become too dependent in the future on importing energy from other countries and 78 percent concerned that electricity will become unaffordable.

Other survey results include:

  • 78 percent believe the climate is changing but 40 percent believe the seriousness of climate change is exaggerated.
  • 65 percent are prepared to reduce their energy use to tackle climate change and 68 percent would probably or definitely vote in favor of spending taxpayers’ money on British projects designed to tackle climate change.
  • 38 percent believe the benefits of nuclear power outweigh the risks and 46 percent favor the replacement of British nuclear stations.
  • Renewable sources (wind and solar power) remain strongly favored forms of electricity production.

“The results do show a rise in those who hold doubts about the reality of climate change, although this may not be as significant as some had first feared.”

“We were surprised to see the very high levels of concern about energy security, and conclude that support exists for an energy policy framed around both the future security of supplies and realistic action to address climate change,” Pidgeon says.

“In terms of developing a low carbon energy economy for Britain, renewables are clearly favored whilst nuclear power remains unpopular but may be accepted alongside the development of a range of other energy sources.”

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