Public attitudes to energy supply

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What proportion of the public in Great Britain stated they were very or fairly concerned about climate change?
74% (Transforming the UK Energy System- Demski et al, 2013)
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What proportion of the GB public believe the climate is changing?
79% (Demski et al, 2013)
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What proportion of the GB public believe climate change is caused in part by human activity?
80% (Demski et al, 2013)
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What might be causing climate change fatigue?
Low imminent threat (slow increase of threat); system justification theory:people have:need to maintain positive view on current social order (Nordhaus and Shellenberger, 2008), desensitisation to apocalyptic future projections
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What % of the GB public believe the seriousness of climate change is exaggerated?
30% (Demski et al, 2013)
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What is climate change fatigue?
A general sense of apathy or passive resignation towards the issues of climate change in part due to organizational change that are uninspiring and unsuccessful. (Adapted from definition of organisational change fatigue).
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Why do only 57% of the GB public believe most scientists agree human beings are causing climate change?
Media- often give for and against climate change figures equal time on TV in interviews- not proportional to how common the beliefs are in the scientific community
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What proportion of scientists agree it is extremely likely (95%+) that human activity is the predominant contribution to global climate change?
97% of actively publishing climate scientists agree (Cook et al, 2013)
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What is the policy priority that the GB public often rank as the most important?
Keeping energy bills affordable for ordinary households (Demski et al, 2013)
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What might be a barrier to the GB public accepting higher energy bills to help transition the energy system to low carbon?
Trust- public do not trust that the additional money will all go into investment for renewables etc- believe it will contribute to profits for energy companies or to government. (Butler et al
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Is energy a public good or commodity?
Currently- commodity - buy it
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What % of GB public believe the UK should cut its use of fossil fuels? What % believe the UK should cut its energy use?
79%; 73% (Demski et al, 2013)
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Which forms of energy are most favored by GB public?
85% are very/mostly in favor of solar energy; 75% for wind and H.E.P; 33% nuclear power; 19% for oil; 41% for gas (Demski et al, 2013)
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What % of GB respondents indicated willingness to greatly reduce their energy use if support is available? Why might these people not be doing so?
73% (Demski et al, 2013) Infrastructure not in place? Respondents don't know how to reduce energy demand.
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What is the sector with one of the biggest growing carbon emissions?
Cloud-based services used by ipads/phones/laptops
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Based on the work by Parkhill et al, 2013 and Demski et al, 2015 what is the pubic vision for the future energy system?
One that:contributes to a broader vision of sustainable future: strong commitment to renewable forms of energy production and corresponding shift away from fossil fuels.improvement in energy efficiency+reductions in energy demand. Aware of challenges
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What is the idea of the NIMBY phenomenon?
Certain services as considered beneficial by the majority of the population but the facilities proposed to provide these services are in practice strongly opposed by local residents (van der Horst, 2007)
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Why does there seem to be an increasing in "NIMBY" attitudes?
Having+articulating pro-environmental values=more socially acceptable(Kraft &Clary,1991),fear of unknown technical risk+ growing awareness (Beck-risk society), information=publically available. increasing public engagement, campaigning technology
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Why is "upstream" public engagement now being seen as very important"
By the time a project becomes contraversial- too late- will come up against lots of opposition. Better to engage before permission is asked- gain local knowledge and insight to opinion from a variety of individuals
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What is the definition of NIMBY developed by Kraft and Clary, 1991?
Intense sometimes emotional and often adamant local opposition to siting proposals that residents believe will result in adverse impacts
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What are the connotations/implications for the term NIMBY?
"geographical catchment area for selfish behaviour"(van der Horst,2007);"portrays citizens as narrowly self-interested/annoyance to public decision-makers"(Johnson & Scicchitano, 2012); ultimate legitimisation:not considering arguements (Wolsink,2006
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Why is it unfair to say that NIMBY attitudes are unfounded?
Often risks are geographically concentrated and the benefits are more dispersed- may actually affect local people negatively - not unreasonable to not want it
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What is a strategy for solving the issue of risks being concentrated and benefits dispersed?
Change the perceived utility by influencing costs and benefits at local and individual level e.g. jobs, funding for local projects (Wolsink, 2006)
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What is the issue with perceptions?
Can lead to real world consequences- will have an impact on behaviour- especially if told behaviour is unfounded
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Define stigma
An aspect of social identity that is of a less desirable kind (Goffman, 1963)
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Why might people be worried about stigma if particular projects are suggested for areas?
Some technologies are deemed as unacceptable (Gregory&Satterfield, 2002); this can lead to geographical stigma- a landscape can gain negative connotations depending on the material acts which take place within it (Parkhill et al, 2013)
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How are perceptions formed?
What you think, family think, worries about what people outside an area might think
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Why might it be short-sighted to dismiss NIMBY fears as irrational?
Often reports- only reflect one approach to management of risk- often perceived risks can become more materialistic (Wolsink, 2006) e.g. there has been an increase in wind far planning permissions rejected
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What might resolve some of the issues that come to light due to local public opinion opposing projects?
More open planning processes (Wolsink, 2000)
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Why has it become viable to exploit shale gas?
Prices and supply of conventional fossil fuels- increased prices + few reserves left (economically exploitable resources)
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What has O'Hara et al 2013 predicted for the future of gas?
Golden age for gas: by 2035- natural gas accounting for 25% of all global energy use
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How has the exploitation of shale gas changed in the US over the last 17 years?
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What is the response of opinion to shale gas in the UK as a result of what is occurring in the UK?
Growing political excitement - elites. But growing concerns about environmental and community impacts (Jones et al, 2013) Also - sceptisicm of professionals- UK is v. deep geologically to US. Need to shift from f.f.s altogether.
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What social justice issues are there in the shale gas arguements?
Planning permission processes = complicated. Local authorities should have control. Shale gas= under mineral strategy- not new regulations- same ones used for conventional gas despite being very different- Gov can be appealed to
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How much shale gas is it estimated is in the UK?
40 trillion m3 in the Bowland basin in the North of England (more than in the North sea) (Jones et al, 2013)
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What environmental concerns are there about fracking?
Pollution of ground and surface waters, could endanger human and animal health, earthquake risk? Releases ghg emissions. Redirect investment from carbon neutral renewable alternatives
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What are the arguements for shale gas?
1/2 g.h.g emissions of coal. Economic benefits?- reduce imports + support British manufacturing? (Institute of Directiors in Jones et al, 2013) Reduce improts from 76-37% (reduce costs from £15.6 to £7.5 billion)
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Which differences between the UK and US may reduce the benefits of shale in the UK compared to the US?
Different geology, higher popln density,less land available, lack of competition for onshore drilling, tougher environmental regulations, higher prices in the UK and Europe (Jones et al, 2013)
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What are the main contraversies of shale gas in the UK?
Continued reliance on fossil fuels; mode of accessing the gas- fracking; majority in the North of the UK?- Yorkshire and Lancashire- perpetuating inequalities?
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What % of people in the UK associate fracking with earthquakes?
Less certainty- has reduced over time after moratorium on fracking lifted but far more people do associate than don't - statistically significant- has increased after Preece hall report on earthquakes in Lancashire
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To what extent do people associate shale gas with water contamination?
High association- around 50% in Sept 2016 (O'Hara et al, 2016)
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Is shale gas associated with clean energy?
More people don't. Although there is rising uncertainty. Quite a high response of "Don't know"
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Is shale gas associated with energy security?
Conflicting. Similar numbers of responses for yes, no and don't know. Highest is "assoicate with"
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To what extent is shale gas associated with cheaper energy?
High association by public- around 45% in sept 2016 (O'Hara et al, 2016)
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How did people respond to "should shale gas be allowed in the UK"?
There has been a significant shift from 2012-2016. Over 50% yes in 2012 now down to 40%.
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Why has there been such a change to whether the public feel shale gas should be allowed in the UK or not?
Increasing coverage in the media about local decision making being overthrown?- Lancashire. Growing ambivalence.
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How does the national government policy on shale gas differ to that of onshore windfarms?
For wind farms local authorities have final say but for shale gas- government could overturn local authority decision making
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What occurred during the planning permission process for a Cuadrilla project in Lancashire
2 submissions initially turned down by Lancashire council in 2015- due to concerns of noise and visual impact. Cuadrilla submitted an appeal. 2016- UK government overturned council decision for 1 submission
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How important are first affective associations in dictating the level of public support?
Strong association with overall final opinion (Peter and Slovic, 1996)
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Suggest some reasons as to why nuclear power has such strong public perception issues?
"Uniquely dreaded technology"(Slovic, 1987)- associations-intangible radiation+waste issues: Windscale fire,1957;3 mile island, 1979; Chernobyl, 1986; Fukishima, 2011. Little trust in regulators, industry+government- managing risk and truthful info.
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What is the legacy from the cold war?
30 minutes from annihilation fear- associations with the atomic weaponry
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How was public support for nuclear power changed over time in the UK?
After 3 mile island and Chernobyl- support fell. More about not developing any more stations
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Why is Chernobyl still in the public consciousness?
Still feeling the effects today- some areas in Wales only just been able to start up sheep farming again
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How did the event of Fukishima affect public attitudes to nuclear power in the UK?
Only a soft drop in phase out/shut down- only increasing confusion- don't know.
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What is social judgement theory?
Accidents will affect the opinions of people differently dependent upon their prior attitudes e.g. Pro-nuclear individuals=less likely to change attitudes to NP-Chernobyl= isolated incident; anti-nuclear individuals more negative-Chernobyl= evidence
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Why did UK public attitude to nuclear energy not change after the events of Fukushima in 2011?
Treated as an isolated incident caused by events = are unlikely to occur in UK- tsunami/earthquake
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What is the risk of most concern to the GB public?
Overground storage risk (Poortinga et al, 2013)
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How might Fukushima have affected concern about specific risks associated with nuclear power?
Natural disaster risk- about 50% people are concerned (Poortinga et al, 2013) - possibly Fukishima bought up idea of unknows- impossible to prepare for everything
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Are GB citizens willing to accept new nuclear power stations if it would help tackle climate change?
Ambivalence- agree has dropped since 2005. Don't know has increased. Overall fairly stable. Effective framing of nuclear power as a low-carbon resource.
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How does public perception differ close to nuclear sites?
Tends to be higher acceptance(Venables et al, 2009).economic dependence:employment, trade opportunities, improved road maintenance and other amenities.However:"underlying unease in the discourse of local people+nuclear workers" (Parkhill et al, 2010)
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What is familiarisation?
Where a feature becomes an unremarkable part of the landscape over time
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Why might nuclear power stations be seen as endearing parts of the landscape for local people?
Navigational aid/representative of have and refuge (Mallett, 2004) - can see power station in distance- know almost home
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How might de-mystification affect the social networks and trust of people local to power stations?
People may know power station workers or imagine they have the same/similar work ethics as those working there- trust is built
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What type of technologies might local people compare functions of power stations to which lowers their perception of risk?
Domestic technology e.g. steam rising from the cooling towers- similar to a kettle.
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How might people perceive the risk of nuclear power as a normal risk?
Say risk is everywhere- no difference
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What are the two types of normification?
Difference- there are other more risky endeavors that people have to face- have it better. Sameness- a potential threat may not be limited to just the local area- doesn't make a difference if slightly closer
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What are moments of anxiety?
Small periods of uncertainty- bubble to the surface as a result of events such as terrorist, health threats, or Chernobyl like events leading temporarily to the power station being viewed as a threat
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What are local experientially relevant threats which might cause moments of anxiety?
Events may occur that are not confirmed results of the power station e.g. fire engines- immediately assume something must be going on at the power station
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Give an example of an extraordinary event that worried a local resident for a short period of time although they laugh about it now?
Oldbury resident- when power station was built- people would come around in white suits + helmets to carry out testing. Residents would just be in regular clothes- bit worrying.
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Give an example of something that happened to a resident in Bradwell which has now really increased the uncertainty around the safety of the power station?
Baby diagnosed with a rare genetic condition- neither parents carriers- spontaneous occurrence- easy to think proximity might be to blame
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How was wind energy production changed in the UK?
Increasing. Over 90000 MW capacity onshore and 5100 MW offshore- far fewer offshore
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Why do people like wind energy according to Warren et al, 2005)?
Clean energy, renewable-shift away from fossil fuels. global altruism, sustainability for future generations,
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What are some other reasons for positive attitudes to wind energy?
Symbolic representation of being in syn with nature (Woods, 2003). Help boost the economy (Haggett, 2011); Add to a desolate landscape (Butler et al, 2013); Productive space (Woods, 2003)
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Why might people be against onshore wind energy?
Rural/Urban tension-wind energy in Scotland- going to London? Spoiling visual amenity?Damage to tourism. Environmental impacts. Lack of engagement for planning, "Alien" or "inorganic"- transgression- industrialisation (Woods, 2003)
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What is usually the public opinion once wind turbines are built?
Usually viewed positively- becomes familiar (Hagget, 2008)
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Why is the government more in favor of offshore wind than onshore wind?
They produce more energy, out of site- no impact on visual amenity?
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What are some of the key issues with offshore wind production/.
More expensive, harder to maintain, harder to get grid connections, unknown ecological impacts (Haggett, 2008)- many of the same issues as onshore turbines but manifesting in different ways
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Do offshore wind farms overcome the problems of visual impact effects?
Dependent on whether landscape=suitable. Coastal communities=densely packed. In a structureless environment- nothing to interrupt view-just ocean- may stick out.
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Do offshore wind farms overcome the problems of environmental impact?
Unknown effects on birds and marnie wildlife e.g. from vibrations into the water?
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How did the public feel in response to the offshore farm developed in Gwynt-y-Mor in North Wales? (largest offshore wind farm built in Europe at the time)
Felt marginalised/voiceless- just big developers coming in and taking advantage of the are with the government allowing the area to be sold off.
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Card 2


What proportion of the GB public believe the climate is changing?


79% (Demski et al, 2013)

Card 3


What proportion of the GB public believe climate change is caused in part by human activity?


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


What might be causing climate change fatigue?


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


What % of the GB public believe the seriousness of climate change is exaggerated?


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