New survey on renewable energy and cap & trade

Pike Research - Enviro energy survey.jpg

The market research firm Pike Research has a new survey out looking at consumer attitudes and awareness of a broad cross-section of energy and environment topics.  (white paper requires registration, press release has limited info). 

Among the highlights per the report are that wind and solar energy are favored by sizable majorities, nuclear and cap and trade are viewed unfavorably (compared to other survey topics) and that LEED isn’t a well understood concept.  Ultimately, this is just one island in a sea of surveys on this subject, but the white paper is worth a read to get some insight on current public perceptions of these topics.

I also saw a couple new elements worth commenting on when I reformatted their data points into a new stacked bar chart (I’m sure they don’t mind), :

1)      At the very least, it seems the battle of public opinion is currently being won by the cleantech industry.  Not only are key clean technologies (solar, wind, hybrid/electrics) viewed favorably or extremely favorably (in the case of solar and wind) but most respondents appear to have made up their mind of the topic.  Very few (<5%) are unfamiliar with these technologies, and while slightly larger subsets of respondents have neutral or unfavorable opinions about clean vehicles, anywhere from two thirds to three quarters of respondents overall have positive opinions about these technologies.  While opinions are always apt to change (and this is after all just one survey), it dovetails with many other surveys that have noted the same trend.  

2)      I wouldn’t interpret these results as any public shift against cap and trade so much as argue there’s an education gap on the issue that needs filling, (which other research tends to agree on).  In the survey, Cap and Trade and carbon offsets/credits have higher unfavorable opinions than other topics (except nuclear), which the Pike press release calls out, and then elaborates on in the report with a couple charts.  However, reformatting the respondent answers as above, pulls out a more salient point - a large majority of respondents are actually either neutral (green) or unfamiliar (grey) on the topic of cap and trade (and one can likely assume that at least some of those “neutrals” actually belong in the “unfamiliar” category).  A more nuanced reading of this survey is simply that we need more education and awareness-raising on the cap and trade mechanism.