Renewed concerns over nuclear risks among the public

The consequences of high oil prices–still around $100 a barrel–are making themselves felt again. Exxon has announced increased profits, and prices at the fuel pump are at near-record levels.
So the fact that fears of further price increases are at the top of consumers’ concerns about energy, according to GlobeScan’s world public attitudes tracking, should not come as a surprise. Nearly one in four citizens (23%) across nine countries polled since 1998 now cites rising prices as their primary energy-related concern.
The latest data also reveals the impact of last year’s incident at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant. Concern about the risks posed by nuclear power had fallen away significantly the last time this question was fielded in 2008, as many governments contemplated ramping up their nuclear programs in response to increasing concerns over energy security and supply. But the Fukushima accident has clearly made many think again, and worries about the risks of nuclear power are now mentioned as the primary energy-related concern by nearly as many (21%) as possible price increases.
However, other recent GlobeScan findings suggest that some countries are bucking the trend. While support for building new nuclear power stations has fallen in many countries, it has remained stable in the USA, and has risen in the UK. With support for nuclear expansion also high in China and Pakistan, it is too soon to say that public opinion has swung decisively against nuclear power.
Finding from the GlobeScan Radar, Wave 2, 2011
This post was written by former GlobeScan Research Director, Sam Mountford.