Brussels, 07 Mar 2003
A clearer picture of EU public opinion regarding energy related issues is revealed in a eurobarometer report presented by Philippe Busquin, Commissioner for Research, on 6 March.
The results from the 'energy: issues, options and technologies' barometer are based on the views of some 16,000 citizens, aged 15 and over, from across the European Union: They suggest that while citizens recognise the need to implement energy saving measures in the EU, much preference is given to measures that do not impose obligations on individuals.
'We all know energy consumption is on the rise, and that this increase is not sustainable in the long term - but we do not want to change our habits. That is the energy paradox, ' said Mr Busquin.
Indeed, such a paradox can be explained by the inexact perceptions regarding energy consumption: In particular, the report shows that EU citizens overestimate the energy consumption of factories and call for stricter relations and checks for industry.
However, while the amount of energy used in transport has been underestimated, a quarter of those interviewed accept the idea of imposing stricter regulations for cars.
At the same time, The EU's dependency on energy imports is perceived as a real problem: 41 per cent of citizens believe that research into new energy resources could be the way forward.
In terms of global warming, 74 per cent of respondents agree that transport is largely responsible for climate change, while research into new cleaner forms of transport was backed by 53 per cent of respondents.
Some 69 per cent of those interviewed also deem renewable energy sources worthy of more research in the future.
While the report suggests that EU citizens still have difficulties understanding nuclear fusion, those interviewed agreed that further research into nuclear fusion is needed to confirm its potential as an alternative form of energy.
'Overall, this is an encouraging signal for the continuation and strengthening of our research activities at European and national levels and confirms choices we have made in designing the EU's research programmes and activities,' said Mr Busquin.
Indeed, the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) reflects this commitment by providing 610 million euro for sustainable transport systems and 750 million euro for nuclear fusion research over the next four years.
In acknowledging the importance of research and training in this field, respondents were also asked for their opinion on why there is a current lack of students in energy related studies. Some respondents felt that energy related research is not appealing enough to entice students or that studying the field does not lead to attractive jobs.
This insight, coupled with 85 per cent of respondents showing little knowledge about European research and development energy-related activities, suggests that further efforts are needed in order to enhance and promote awareness at national and European level.