Swedes' support for nuclear power has risen to a record high, whereas the percentage of nuclear power antagonists has plummeted to a record low, a recent survey has found.
According to the Analysis Group, which is financed by the energy industry and has measured Swedes' attitudes to nuclear power since 1997, a recent survey by pollster Novus indicates a spike in support for nuclear power.
A broad majority of Swedes, 78 percent, strongly support nuclear energy (up from 71 in last year's survey). While 43 percent are open to the construction of new nuclear power plants, another 35 percent would like to continue using today's reactors throughout their lifetime.
By contrast, nuclear resistance has dropped to merely 11 percent of the population
“From hovering steadily around 20 percent over the years, we see a significant change in this year's survey: the proportion who want to decommission nuclear power is down to a record low of 11 percent,” Uppsala University researcher and member of the Analysis Group Mattias Lantz explained.
The gap in attitudes towards nuclear power between men and women has also narrowed.
“Women have historically been more sceptical, but this year's survey shows that women become increasingly accepting of nuclear energy”, Viktor Wemminger of pollster Novus explained. Young people, who earlier proved to be among the most sceptical, appear more accepting as well.
According to researchers, this reflects the rising acceptance of nuclear power as a tool in the fight against climate change.
“My conclusion is that knowledge of the nuclear power's low climate impact has reached a broad front,” Mattias Lantz said. Wemminger, for his part, cited alarming reports from the UN Climate Panel about the continued use of fossil fuel, which spurred many people to embrace nuclear power as a safer alternative.
Course for a Complete Phase-Out
The shift in public opinion emerged for some time ago, but increased further this year, something that surprised Mattias Lantz given the immense popularity of HBO's scary TV disaster drama “Chernobyl” that gained a massive viewership. He also recalled a spike in nuclear resistance following the 2011 Fukushima accident in Japan. The spike, however, appears to have since died down completely.
Earlier this year, national broadcaster SVT reported similar results, where two out of three Swedes (66 percent) turned out to have a positive attitude to nuclear power, despite the government's phase-out policy, which has lasted many years.
After the Three Mile Island accident, a partial meltdown in Pennsylvania in 1979, Sweden held a national referendum, whereupon the parliament decided in 1980 that no further nuclear power plants should be built. While a complete phase-out was slated for 2010, the parliament later opened up for replacing existing nuclear power plants. Instead, a push for 100 percent of Sweden's energy to be sustainable by 2040 was adopted.
As of today, Sweden has three operational nuclear power plants with eight operational nuclear reactors, which produce about 40% of the country's electricity.
Earlier in November, Jon Sjölander of the Moderate Party called for a new referendum on nuclear energy.