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Support for nuclear energy in UK highest amongst Baby Boomers and Conservatives

Support for nuclear energy is on the rise in the UK, according to recent polling. Utilising Savanta’s Eco Segmentation study, we reveal the groups across society driving this shift in public opinion.

Alex Farrell Senior Executive 15/06/2023

Savanta’s segmentation report provides clarity about the diverse public responses to climate change and sustainability, and in the process provides a fascinating window into the UK public’s opinions on nuclear energy.

Considering the segment types, the first clear split in opinion is on overall support for nuclear energy, with conscientious traditionalists (45%) and defiantly disengaged (45%) most likely to support nuclear energy, compared to progressive campaigners (36%) and cautious observers (35%).

On the flip side, progressive campaigners are most likely to oppose nuclear energy (38%), significantly more so than conscientious traditionalists (24%), defiantly disengaged (18%) and cautious observers (31%).

Notably, over a third (36%) of progressive campaigners support nuclear energy, and just under one in five (18%) do not feel strongly either way. This suggests that whilst this younger group is in strongest opposition to nuclear, there is a substantial proportion who are actually in favour, with very few sitting on the fence.

Committed changemakers – who share many traits with progressive campaigners – – also follow a similar pattern, but represent a much smaller segment of society*.

When researching nuclear attitudes earlier in the year, younger people were less likely to support nuclear energy. That trend continues when broken down by the various eco segments, with younger, more progressive campaigners in stronger opposition to nuclear versus generally older conscientious traditionalists.

There is also a clear political divide, with those holding more left-leaning, egalitarian views significantly less likely to support nuclear energy compared to those on the right.

Nuclear as a green, sustainable alternative

Conscientious traditionalists are also joined by empowered individualists in believing in the sustainability and green credentials of nuclear energy, but again – much like overall support for nuclear energy – we find progressive campaigners and cautious observers at the opposite end of the spectrum.

For example, empowered individualists (53%) are most likely to agree that nuclear energy is sustainable, significantly more than progressive campaigners (38%), sidelined strivers (35%), cautious observers (34%), and even defiantly disengaged (42%) respondents. Similarly, conscientious traditionalists (49%) are more likely than progressive campaigners (38%), sidelined strivers (35%) and cautious observers (34%) to say the same.

Empowered individualists (50%) are also most likely to agree that nuclear energy is a form of green energy, significantly more than conscientious traditionalists (38%), progressive campaigners (29%), defiantly disengaged (30%), sidelined strivers (31%) and cautious observers (28%).

Meanwhile, conscientious traditionalists (58%) are more likely than progressive campaigners (46%), sidelined strivers (42%) and cautious observers (45%) to believe nuclear energy is a viable alternative to fossil fuels.

Government support and investment

Unsurprisingly, this support for nuclear energy among empowered individualists and conscientious traditionalists results in stronger agreement with planned government backing (41% and 45% respectively), as can be seen below. Again, this is significantly higher than both progressive campaigners (33%) and cautious observers (33%).

However, whilst overall support is consistent between empowered individualists and conscientious traditionalists, their opinions differ on the levels of investment they believe should be made in nuclear energy.

Whilst conscientious traditionalists are most likely to say the UK should invest more in nuclear energy (41%), empowered individualists are most likely to say investment should be maintained at current levels (39%), including significantly more than conscientious traditionalists themselves (28%).

Somewhat unsurprisingly given their consistent opposition to nuclear energy, progressive campaigners are most likely to say the UK should invest less in nuclear energy (26%).

Looking to the future

Support for nuclear energy is highest amongst older people and those to the right of the political spectrum, whilst there is significant work to be done to win over the younger, more progressive audience who oppose nuclear from almost all angles.

Similarly, those at the margins such as sidelined strivers and cautious observers tend to be convinced on nuclear energy, although these groups – particularly the latter – may well present a key opportunity for the industry.

Though generally younger and more left-leaning, these individuals are looking to authority figures to take the lead on improving society as a whole, guidance that could well be provided both by the industry itself and further support from policymakers.

 

Want to discover more about the growing trend towards green consciousness in the UK? Our Eco Segmentation report surveys 10,000 respondents to explore the varying attitudes across consumer segments.

Click here to download the free report.

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If you’d like to find out more, get in touch with the team: [email protected]

Or read more about our work in the Energy and Utilities sector by clicking here.

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