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New poll reveals 60% of Australians support nuclear energy

In a major turnaround and significant boost for the opposition Liberal party, a new survey has found that six in ten Australians now support using nuclear power to generate electricity.

The latest Lowy Institute poll has recorded a major shift in Australian attitudes towards energy sources, with 60% of those polled backing nuclear power as opposed to 2011.

At that time, in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident, roughly the same number (62%) were against the nation building nuclear power plants to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Anti-coal sentiment grows

The new poll also found the majority of Australians are now negative towards coal, with about 60% supporting “reducing Australian coal exports to other countries” and “banning new coal mines from opening in Australia.”

Support for renewable energy remains solid, with two-thirds either saying the government’s renewable energy target is “about right” (41%) or “not ambitious enough” (25%).

The survey found that many Australians viewed global warming as a key threat to the nation and ranked “improving the global environment” as Australia’s top foreign policy objective.

Household v humanitarian

While results suggest that concerns about the threat of and desire to see action on climate change both remain high, in the context of cost-of-living pressures and declining economic optimism more Australians prioritise “reducing household energy bills” over “reducing carbon emissions.”

Since 2018, views on the urgency of the issue have largely stabilised.

A majority (between 56–61%) have seen global warming as a “serious and pressing problem” requiring immediate action.

A smaller group (between 28–34%) think the problem can be dealt with gradually, while a small minority (between 9–12%) remain unsure it is actually a problem.

Clean energy desires

Meanwhile, another study has found that a majority of Australians – particularly younger ones – place the collective benefits of action on climate change and lower electricity prices ahead of their individual concerns about the impacts of development.

The 12-month-long “This is Transition” study assessed community opinions, values and motivations impacting the country’s shift from coal and gas-fired electricity to renewable power.

The study, conducted by highly regarded research firm Essential Research and commissioned by Australia’s ZEN Energy, has also identified warning signs that public support is at risk if communication about the ability of renewable technologies to replace fossil fuel generation isn’t consistent or reinforced over time.

The study found Australians believe there are two main reasons why the country’s energy transition is facing difficulties: the technology isn’t advanced enough and governments haven’t provided enough leadership.

Source: Small Caps