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Climate change vs energy security? The conditional support for energy sources among Western Europeans

Arndt, C. (2023) Climate change vs energy security? The conditional support for energy sources among Western Europeans. Energy Policy, 174. 113471. ISSN 0301-4215

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2023.113471


The decarbonisation of Western societies requires a fundamental reorganisation of energy supply and fierce debates around the future energy mix have begun in many countries. However, we still know little about how concerns about energy security affect the public’s energy preferences in view of the critique that renewable energies might compromise energy security. This paper argues that there is a perceived trade-off between energy security and climate protection that affects energy supply preferences in Western Europe. Using the European Social Survey’s ‘Public Attitudes to Climate Change’ module, the findings from multilevel regressions demonstrate that there is indeed a perceived trade-off in energy preferences among Western Europeans. People concerned about energy security prefer coal, gas, and nuclear power over renewable energies. People worried about climate change prefer solar and wind energy over nuclear and fossil forms of energy. The analysis further identifies four different groups representing the trade-off between energy security and climate protection among Western Europeans. The paper thus identifies why energy preferences might collide and why some countries observe a polarisation of views around energy supply that policymakers need to address to realise a successful and publicly acceptable transformation of energy supply.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Politics and International Relations
ID Code:110578


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