An overwhelming majority of people around the world support a global switch to green energy, according to the largest-ever survey into people’s attitudes towards renewables.
The Green Energy Barometer, which is based on interviews with more than 26,000 people across 13 countries, found 82 per cent of people support the idea of a world fully powered by green energy.
The findings cut across age groups, educational backgrounds and countries, according to Edelman Intelligence, which conducted the study on behalf of Ørsted, the Danish energy giant formerly known as DONG Energy.
Across the 13 countries, respondents in China expressed the most support for a world powered by renewable energy with 93 per cent backing the idea, followed by Taiwan at 89 per cent, and Germany and Canada at 84 per cent. In the UK, 82 per cent of people back the idea – a high level of support that chimes with the government’s own findings.
“We’re at a tipping point,” argued Ørsted CEO Henrik Poulsen. “Green energy has become cheaper than black, and the newly released Green Energy Barometer shows overwhelming public support for a shift from black to green. We owe it to the planet and to future generations to transform our energy systems from black to green. And with the economics and public opinion now supporting a shift to renewable energy, there’s no reason not to speed up the transformation.”
The survey revealed that although concern over climate change was a major reason for public support of renewables, the potential of technologies such as wind and solar power to boost economic growth and create jobs was also cited as a factor.
Patriotism also plays a part: three-quarters of people said they would be proud of their country if it became a global leader in green energy.
Although the data is only a snapshot of global opinions – citizens in Africa, South America and Australasia were not surveyed at all – it does serve as an important reminder to lawmakers gathered this week for the UN climate summit in Bonn that the narrative of clean, green growth seems to be well received by the public at large.
With national emission reduction pledges not yet in line with the Paris Agreement’s target to limit warming to two degrees, many countries will likely have to deploy renewable energy far faster than current plans to hit the Paris targets. Last week, a number of expert bodies called on governments at the COP23 UN Climate Summit in Bonn to make an accelerated roll out of renewables a more central component of their national climate action plans.
The news comes just a few weeks after Ørsted rebranded, in a bid to underscore its transition away from an oil and gas business to a world-leading player in wind energy. Other energy giants are following suit – for example, late last week Spanish utility Iberdrola announced the complete closure of all its coal-fired power capacity as it seeks to halve its emissions intensity by 2030 and become carbon neutral by 2050.
Coal-fired power generation still represents around 1.8 per cent of the Iberdrola’s 48,000MW of generating capacity, contributing around 1.5 per cent of its total power output. The move means Iberdrola will close its remaining coal-fired facilities, in the Spanish municipalities of Lada and Velilla, pending the consent of authorities.
Once completed, 68 per cent of Iberdrola’s energy generation will be emissions-free, it said, with the remainder coming from power stations running on gas and fuel oil.