International poll finds strong support for alternative energy, even at higher costs

The most popular forms of alternative energy were solar and wind, which are the most widely used worldwide as well.

solar 88 (photo credit: )
solar 88
(photo credit: )
A WorldPublicOpinion poll of 21 countries released last week has found a surprising number of citizens strongly in favor of government efforts to encourage alternative energy development and energy efficiency. The support did not flag even when respondents were told it would cost more money, because they believed it would ultimately save money. "It is quite remarkable that there is such unanimity around the world that government should address the problem of energy by emphasizing alternative energy sources and greater efficiency," commented Steven Kull, director of, in a statement. "Equally remarkable is how little the governments around the world are following the public's lead." The poll of 20,790 respondents took place between July 15 and November 4. Interviews were conducted in 21 nations, including most of the largest nations-China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Russia-as well as Argentina, Azerbaijan, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, the Palestinian territories, Poland, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Taiwan and Macau. Israelis were not polled for their opinions. The most popular forms of alternative energy were solar and wind, which are the most widely used worldwide as well. Majorities favored it in 20 of the polled nations, led by South Korea (89 percent), Kenya (88%), France (88%), Italy (88%) and the US (87%). Only Russia - a major oil producer - lagged behind with just 50% in favor. Israel's solar energy industry is in its infancy but has gotten a major push recently with a new feed-in tariff for household production of solar energy through photovoltaic (PV) panels. While there are some efforts to harness the wind on the Golan Heights, much of the country does not have sufficiently hard winds to move standard turbines. There are Israeli companies working on more efficient turbines that turn at lower wind speeds, but the general consensus is that Israel's major "energy crop" is solar. The poll found that many people were unfazed by the initial costs of setting up alternative energy infrastructure because they believed it would save money in the long run. No majority in any of the 21 countries polled believed it was too expensive or too ruinous to the local economy to build. A majority in all countries favored "green building" and retrofitting buildings to become more energy efficient. Buildings are one of the biggest producers of greenhouse gases. Support was just over 50% in India and the Palestinian territories, while it was closer to 90% in the UK and France, according to the poll's results. Most respondents were also in favor of companies becoming more energy-efficient, even if that meant products would become more expensive. Building more nuclear power plants was not popular in most of the nations polled, with the exception of China, Kenya, Nigeria and Jordan, where support hovered around 60%. Jordan also supported building more coal or oil burning power plants - the least-popular choice among those polled. is a collaborative research project involving research centers from around the world and managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland. Margins of error for the poll range from +/-2%-4%.