November 19, 2009
Publics around the world show high levels of concern about energy security. Large majorities believe that energy shortages and higher prices could lead to destabilization of the world economy, that competition for energy could lead to international conflict and even war, and that the way the world produces energy is causing environmental problems. Large majorities favor addressing energy security as a high foreign policy priority. Download full chapter (PDF).
Europeans show strong support for addressing the issue of energy multilaterally rather than through their national governments. Download full chapter (PDF).
In international polls there is strong support for a variety of methods for addressing the problem of energy supply. These methods include putting greater emphasis on the development of alternative renewable sources such as solar and wind, requiring utilities to use more alternative renewable energy (even if this increases the cost), and providing tax incentives to encourage the development and use of such technologies. There is substantial optimism that investments in alternative energy will pay off economically in the long run. Download full chapter (PDF).
In every major country polled, majorities favor putting greater emphasis on modifying buildings to make them more energy efficient. Most publics favor requiring businesses to use energy more efficiently, even if this might make some products more expensive. Over half of publics—and an average of just under half of people across countries—favor an extra charge for the purchase of models or appliances or cars that are not energy efficient. Fewer than half of publics support increasing energy taxes to encourage conservation, but support rises to a majority in most countries if the revenues are earmarked for developing alternative energy or if the tax is offset by other tax reductions. Large majorities in nearly all countries favor requiring auto makers to increase fuel efficiency, even if this means the price of cars would go up. Download full chapter (PDF).
Publics are divided as to whether greater emphasis should be placed on building coal or oil-fired power plants. Expectations are high that the price of oil will rise dramatically over the next decade. All nations polled say that their government should plan on the assumption that oil is running out and that a major effort is necessary to replace it. Europeans are divided and Americans lean against the idea of their country using its military force to ensure the supply of oil. Download full chapter (PDF).
Internationally, views are mixed as to whether greater emphasis should be placed on building nuclear power plants or if new power plants should be built. However, Europeans show fairly favorable views on nuclear energy. Download full chapter (PDF).
Europeans and Americans are divided about how best to deal with their dependence on energy-producing countries. There is significant concern about dependence on Russian energy. Views are divided as to whether Russia can be trusted to follow through on its commitment to deliver energy. Such confidence in other energy-providing countries is moderately low for Saudi Arabia, very low for Iran, quite low for Venezuela, and very high for Canada. Download full chapter (PDF).
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Published by the Council on Foreign Relations since 1922
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