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Solar energy shines in global survey beating fossil fuels

Opec+ oil Reuters/Antara Photo Agency
Solar power was the most popular energy source (68%), trailed by wind (54%), hydropower (35%) and nuclear (24%)

More than two-thirds of the world’s population favours solar energy, five times more than public support for fossil fuels, a global poll has found.

The survey, conducted by Glocalities in collaboration with advocacy groups Global Citizen and The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, was based on interviews with more than 21,000 people in 21 countries between January and June.

The countries included Australia, Brazil, China, India, Italy, Mexico, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and the US.

With 68 percent support, solar power was the most popular energy source, trailed by wind (54 percent), hydropower (35 percent) and nuclear (24 percent), with only 14 percent of respondents saying they favoured fossil fuels, the survey found.

The Glocalities poll reinforced other surveys showing robust support for renewables in Europe and the United States. The EU’s latest Eurobarometre from May-June found 85 percent of Europeans support “investing massively” in renewable energies, such as wind and solar power.

A Pew Research Center poll from early 2022, which pre-dated a global spike in energy prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, showed 69 percent of US adults prioritised developing alternative energy sources such as wind and solar over expanding the production of oil, coal and natural gas, down from 79 percent two years earlier.

In the United States, the Glocalities poll found, solar energy was also the most favored power source at 58 percent, while fossil fuel was supported by 24 percent, well ahead of the global average.

Fossil fuels, however, still accounted for 77 percent of global energy consumption in 2022, said Michael Sheldrick, co-founder and chief policy, impact and government affairs officer at Global Citizen.

“This ‘production gap’ highlights a concerning paradox: despite strong public support for renewable energy, fossil fuel production remains prevalent,” he said.

“Regardless of demographic or political affiliation, Democrat or Republican, solar power emerges as the world’s preferred energy source (which) indicates that there exists a common ground where political agendas can align with the clear demands of citizens,” he added.

Global energy demand rose one percent last year and record renewables growth did nothing to shift the dominance of fossil fuels, the most recent Statistical Review of World Energy report said.

Scientists say the world needs to cut greenhouse gas emissions by around 43 percent by 2030 from 2019 levels to have any hope of meeting the international Paris Agreement goal of keeping warming well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.