Within the climate community, one of the greatest areas of debate is the role of nuclear energy in the mix of climate solutions. Nuclear power already accounts for nearly 20% of America’s power supply, and there are growing voices of support for researching, developing, and building greater nuclear power capacity as part of a broader strategy for mitigating the causes of a changing climate. However, the topic is controversial.
Calls for growth are meeting stiff resistance. Indeed, some of our partners have made firm commitments against nuclear power, while others are undergoing a process of discernment. Questions about whether the risks of nuclear power outweigh the opportunities; whether it’s “clean” or “green”; or whether it is a necessity given the urgency of the climate challenge fill the debate.
It’s no wonder then that the public, too, has an uncertain perspective on whether nuclear energy, old or new, is a path that they support moving forward. While ecoAmerica does not have a formal position, these are important questions to discuss. To better understand where the American public stands on nuclear energy, ecoAmerica conducted our American Climate Perspective Survey in July, which sheds light on this issue:
- Nuclear Power vs. “New” Nuclear Technology: While less than half of Americans support existing nuclear power (49%), they are more in favor of innovations in new nuclear technologies (73%).
- Persistent Concerns: Americans are still very concerned about the risks of nuclear power. Concerns remain about waste (84%), health and safety (81%), and weaponization (73%). While there are some differences in how Democrats and Republicans, men and women think about these risks — a strong majority remain concerned.
- A Consensus of Support for Renewables: One of the persistent findings of ecoAmerica and other research is that a strong majority of Americans, of all stripes, support renewable energy, like wind and solar.
The findings of the American Climate Perspective Survey show that concern about nuclear power readily exceeds support. What remains true is that there is robust and lasting support for renewable energy from across all polled sectors of American society.
To learn more about the of results of the survey, view it HERE. And be sure to follow our Talking Points series, where we provide quick, simple, and effective tips and tricks about translating climate perspectives into climate action!