Fred C. Pampel, University of Colorado, Boulder, published “Support for Nuclear Energy in the Context of Climate Change : Evidence From the European Union” in the September 2011 issue of Organization & Environment. To read the other articles in this issue, please click here.
The relatively low-carbon impact of nuclear power plants and the concern over global warming have renewed both interest in and controversy over expanding nuclear energy. This study uses survey data from nations of the European Union to examine sociodemographic differences among individuals and national differences in levels and processes of support for nuclear energy. Results based on multilevel models for 27 to 29 European nations reveal relatively low support for nuclear energy, even among those concerned about climate change, but consistent patterns of determinants. At the individual level, high socioeconomic status tends to increase support for nuclear energy. At the national level, the presence of operating nuclear power plants in a country leads to higher public support. Both these results more strongly support arguments focusing on the importance of familiarity with the technology than arguments focusing on postmaterialist values. In addition, rightist political views increase support for nuclear energy, but political divisions prove particularly important in high-income nations with postmaterialist values.
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