Public expects energy systems to change

But is looking for fairness and involvement

17 July 2013

The British public wants and expects change with regard to how energy is supplied, used and governed in the country.

But their positive acceptance of change is likely to be highly dependent on the extent to which they are engaged and involved in the process, whether they feel they can trust the organisations and institutions promoting change, and their sense that the results of change are fair, affordable and inclusive for all of society.

These are the core conclusions of a major 3-year research programme at the University of Cardiff looking into public attitudes to the UK's energy system. The work, and subsequent report, was funded by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC).

CSE's Chief Executive, Simon Roberts, was on the programme's Advisory Panel. "The report shows that the public gets the need for energy system change and has a broad view on what direction that change should take - predominantly renewables-based and lower energy demand."

"And this isn’t just speculation, but based on strong evidence and three years’ worth of really solid, academically robust surveys, deliberative workshops and interviews. The research team has done a great job getting beyond the sound-bite polling that tends to be used to characterise ‘public opinion’.

"The attitudes and values of the public described in the report - broadly positive and pro-social - chime with what we encounter through our work every day. We also recognise what the report has to say about the failings of energy companies, policy-makers and regulators. The conclusions are challenging but they also give us cause for great optimism – because they suggest how public buy-in to a more sustainable energy future might be achieved.”

'Transforming the UK Energy System: Public Values, Attitudes and Acceptability' was launched at The Royal Society on 16 July. You can read a copy of the report here, or read more background on the work on UKERC's website here.

Photo: Ian Britton, reproduced under creative commons.

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