Survey finds that opposition to nuclear power has grown

Public opposition to nuclear power has grown since 2005, according to a survey of 23,231 adults in 23 countries.

Conducted by GlobeScan for the BBC, the survey shows that many people believe renewable and not nuclear energy can meet future needs.

According to a statement, most of those polled in countries with operational nuclear plants are opposed to building new reactors.

Thirty-nine per cent said their country should ’use the nuclear power stations we already have, but not build new ones’, while 30 per cent gave affirmative responses to the statement that said ’nuclear power is dangerous and we should close down all operating nuclear plants as soon as possible’. 

The poll, carried out between June and September this year, following the Fukushima crisis in Japan, also indicated that the UK and US are going against this trend and becoming less opposed to nuclear power than others.

The survey was fielded in 12 of the 31 countries that currently operate nuclear power plants. In these countries, opinion is divided as to how extensively nuclear power should be used. Twenty-two per cent agreed that ’nuclear power is relatively safe and an important source of electricity, and we should build more nuclear power plants’.

Eight of these countries were polled in 2005 by GlobeScan about their views and the results suggest that there has been a sharp increase in opposition to nuclear power in five of them.

The proportion opposing the building of new nuclear power stations has grown in Germany from 73 per cent to 90 per cent, but also increased significantly in Mexico from 51 per cent to 82 per cent, in Japan from 76 per cent to 84 per cent, and in France from 66 per cent to 83 per cent.

In contrast, while still a minority view, support for building new nuclear plants has grown in the UK from 33 per cent to 37 per cent, is stable in the US, and is also high in China, at 42 per cent, and Pakistan, where 39 per cent support nuclear.

Among the countries polled that do not have active nuclear plants, support for building them is highest in Nigeria  at 41 per cent, Ghana at 33 per cent and Egypt with 31 per cent support.

The poll also indicated that the belief that conservation and renewable energy can fill a gap left from a move away from fossil fuels and nuclear energy is now the consensus view.

Respondents were asked to state whether they thought that their country ’could almost entirely replace coal and nuclear energy within 20 years by becoming highly energy-efficient and focusing on generating energy from the sun and wind’, with 71 per cent agreeing that it could.

Doug Miller, chairman of GlobeScan, said: ‘The lack of impact the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan has had on public views towards nuclear power in the UK and the US is noteworthy. This contrasts with significantly increased opposition to nuclear new-build in most countries we’ve tracked since 2005.

‘The biggest impact has been in Germany where the Merkel government’s new policy of shutting all its nuclear energy facilities is supported by 52 per cent of Germans in this poll.’