Are people ready for EU’s energy revolution?

European citizens know very little about the importance of energy policy in their daily lives and do not see the need for research on energy efficiency, according to a Eurobarometer survey presented on 8 January 2007.

Contrary to the Commission’s own press release entitled “Europeans firmly behind research into new energy technologies”, the Eurobarometer survey’s findings are not very encouraging for European policymakers. The Commission will attempt on 10 January 2007 to convince citizens that nothing less than “a new industrial revolution” is needed to deal with the double challenge of climate change and increasing energy demand and supply problems.

The survey shows clearly that energy policy is not a priority for citizens and that they are not particularly aware of the need for change in their personal lifestyles. 

Energy issues are only placed 12 (at 14%) in the rankings of most important issues facing Europe today, far behind unemployment (64%), crime (36%), healthcare (33%), or the economy (30%). Only 3% of survey respondents believe that energy policy has an influence on their lives – if citizens are concerned about energy, it is mainly about prices.

Also revealing is the fact that European citizens appear to believe that the problem lies with others. When asked which sectors consume most energy, they point to industry, whereas in reality the transport sector and households are the largest consumers.

Energy efficiency, the flagship of the Commission’s new strategy, fares little better. Although most citizens seem to be aware that energy saving is important, there is a large divide between attitudes and behaviour. More than 21% of respondents admitted that they had not done anything to reduce their energy consumption. Research into energy-saving technologies is also not a priority for EU citizens.

EU citizens put their hope in renewables and do not trust nuclear power (but still believe that it will be a substantial part of the energy mix in the future).

The new survey "Energy Technologies: Knowledge-Perception-Measures" provides an overview of the EU public's perception of energy policy. The survey was presented two days before the official adoption of the Commission's Strategic Energy review and other energy-related communications (see EURACTIV 8 January 2007).  

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