US study charts shifting nuclear attitudes

25 November 2021

Support for nuclear energy is on the rise in the USA, according to the latest study of US attitudes to energy carried out by environmental non-profit ecoAmerica. The American Climate Perspectives Survey found notable shifts in understanding and support for several energy sources, the group said, with strong support for clean energy coupled with the need for education on the energy-climate connection.

(Image: Tim Mossholder-Unsplash)

This is ecoAmerica's fourth annual survey on the topic and indicates how sentiment has shifted from 2018 to today, the organisation said. The survey sample was drawn from a panel of US adults and was conducted online between 27 August and 10 September, yielding a total of 1,110 complete responses.

US support for nuclear energy has grown 10 percentage points from 2018 to 2021, with 59% overall now saying they are strongly or somewhat in support. The highest level of support was found amongst males (72% saying they either strongly or somewhat support nuclear power), with support strongest in adults over the age of 60: 69% of adults over 60 said they supported nuclear power; 60% of adults aged 30-44; 57% aged 18-29; and 54% of adults between 45-60. Less than half of the females surveyed were found to support nuclear energy.

Understanding about nuclear has improved over the past four years - 45% of respondents now think that nuclear contributes to climate change, down from the 52% who believed that in 2018 - but the "misconception" that wind and solar energy contribute to climate change has increased from 12% to 20%, ecoAmerica said.

Waste disposal and health and safety were recognised as the two top concerns regarding nuclear energy, but the findings show notable decreases since 2018, ecoAmerica said. Concerns about waste disposal declined 9 points nationally from 84% in 2018 to 75% in 2021, while concerns over health and safety decreased 7 points from 80% in 2018 to 73% in 2021.

The number of respondents who think the USA should spend more on nuclear energy R&D has continued to increase since 2018 and now stands at 57%.

Washington DC-based ecoAmerica said it does not hold a formal position on nuclear energy.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News