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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 July 2006, 02:08 GMT 03:08 UK
'Global fear' over energy plans
Oil rig at sea
Many fear that the use of fossil fuels is harming the environment
People fear energy policies are threatening the environment and global stability, a BBC poll suggests.

The findings from across 19 countries come in the run-up to the G8 summit in St Petersburg, Russia, which will focus on energy security.

Carried out for the BBC World Service, the poll of nearly 20,000 people indicates concern that some energy suppliers will withhold oil exports.

The study also found wide support for alternative energy strategies.

The poll illustrates a perceived triple threat from the way the world produces and uses energy.

Majorities across all 19 countries indicate that citizens fear:

  • the climate and environment are being harmed
  • that the global economy will be destabilised
  • that competition for energy will lead to greater conflict

Some eight out of 10 of those questioned were worried about the threat to the environment. In Australia, Great Britain, Canada and Italy the level of concern topped 90%.

The findings back a conclusion by an expert panel recently convened by BBC News that climate change is "real and dangerous" and that politicians were unlikely to cut emissions to prevent global warming.

Alternative energy

Doug Miller, president of the poll firm GlobeScan, said: "What's fascinating is that in the midst of historically high energy prices and geopolitical tensions, the number one energy concern in every industrialised country we surveyed is the environmental and climate impacts."

Creating tax incentives to encourage the use of alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power found favour with 80% of respondents.

But there was lukewarm support for more nuclear energy to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. On average, 49% were in favour of building more nuclear plants.

graph showing trust in Russian energy supply
Figure shows % who trust Russia "a lot" and "some"
Polling conducted: 26 May - 2 July 2006
Sample size: 19,579 people in 19 countries
Margin of error +/-2.5 - 4%

This week's G8 meeting coincides with a new surge in oil prices, which are hovering around $70 a barrel.

Majorities of 60% or more in 18 of the 19 countries polled said they feared energy shortages and prices would destabilise the world economy.

The least concerned was Russia, a major oil and gas producer, which benefits from higher prices.

Both US and EU leaders have warned Russia not to use energy as a tool of foreign policy. Earlier this year, the nation's monopoly, Gazprom, cut off gas supplies to Europe during a price dispute with Ukraine.

However, world opinion was evenly divided on whether to trust Russia to honour its energy commitments. On average, 45% said they trusted Russia, while Iran was the least trusted.

Some 73% of those questioned were worried that energy shortages would lead to greater conflict among nations.

In total, 19,579 citizens were interviewed in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Ukraine and the US.

Polling was conducted for the BBC World Service by polling firm GlobeScan and its research partners.

Graph showing concerns over energy use and production

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