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Support Shifts away from Fossil Fuels Despite Rising Energy Prices -Survey

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According to a new survey, there is strong global support – across all countries and demographic groups – for the energy transition to move away from fossil fuels.

A majority of consumers worldwide expect their overall spending power to be significantly impacted by further energy price increases, yet only 13% of those surveyed globally blamed climate policies for rising prices, while 84% of respondents stressed the importance of their own country’s shift to sustainable energy sources.

These are some of the key findings of a survey conducted by the World Economic Forum and Ipsos among 22,534 adults in 30 countries between February 18 and March 4 2022.

“The energy transition has always been about security, affordability and environmental sustainability: the so-called energy triangle,” said Roberto Bocca, Head of Shaping the Future of Energy and Materials, World Economic Forum. “The current geopolitical context makes it even more true today. This survey underlines that popular support exists for the transition to a new energy system that is more sustainable, secure and affordable.”

Impact of energy price hikes on consumer spending power

Survey respondents were asked to consider the energy they use for daily expenses – such as transportation, heating or cooling homes, cooking, powering appliances, etc – and assess how much energy price increases would affect their overall spending power. On average, more than half of consumers (55%) across the 30 countries surveyed expect their overall spending power to be significantly impacted by energy price increases.

However, expectations varied widely across countries. More than two-thirds of respondents in South Africa (77%), Japan (69%), and Turkey (69%) said that price rises would affect them “a great deal or fair amount”, as opposed to just over one-third in Switzerland (37%) and the Netherlands (37%). Conversely, the survey revealed limited differences of opinion across demographic groups in response to the same question. Concern was only slightly higher among those with a lower income (59% of respondents) and those in the 35-49 age group (58%) than the global average (55%).

Causes of the energy price spike – climate change policies least cited

The survey also asked respondents to select a “main reason” for the recent rise in energy prices.

Answers to this question were particularly varied and revealed diverse opinions among global consumers. Without exception, no single reason dominated in any of the 30 countries.

The most cited reasons on average were “volatility in the oil and gas markets” and “geopolitical tensions” (by 28% and 25% of respondents globally). Another 18% cited insufficient supply to meet increased demand, 16% said they were not sure, and only 13% blamed climate change policies – the least cited reason on average.

Consumers in different countries chose different causes for the price hike. Geopolitical tensions were most likely to be blamed in the Netherlands (the only country where any single reason is cited by a majority – 54%), Belgium (46%), and Italy (42%).

Market volatility was the most commonly selected cause in Mexico (40%), South Korea (38%), Peru (36%), and Saudi Arabia (36%). Insufficient supply was cited most often in South Africa (37%), Malaysia (28%), and Argentina (28%). Russian and Japanese consumers were the most likely to be unsure (29% and 25% of respondents respectively).

The countries most likely to cite climate change policies as the cause of the recent price rises were India (24%), Germany (20%), and Poland (19%); and among demographic groups, it was business decision-makers (19%). However, climate policies were not the top reason in any country or among any demographic group, and it was the least common response on average.

Global consensus around the importance of shifting away from fossil fuels

Respondents were also asked how important it was to them that their country shifts away from fossil fuels to more climate-friendly and sustainable energy sources in the next five years. On average, more than four in five of those surveyed globally (84%) said it was important to them. Vast majorities said so in every country surveyed: from 72% in Russia (the lowest globally) and 75% in the United States to 93% in South Africa and Peru. Citizens of emerging countries were especially adamant about it.

Globally, the level of importance granted to shifting away from fossil fuels was also very high across all demographic groups surveyed. Although support was strong among all demographic groups, slightly more women (87%) thought it was important to move away from fossil fuels than men (81%).