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2017 Survey on Taiwanese People’s Attitudes towards Climate Change and Energy Date:2017-05-10

Recent years global climate conditions have been highly erratic, with extreme weather causing flooding or droughts which have been persistently occurring. United Nations reports indicate that Taiwan has been defined as a sensitive region to climate change impacts, with erratic extreme cold and winter typhoon affecting the islands with extreme weather events. To better help the public appreciate climate change and sustainable energy operations, accelerating movement towards transformation to a Low-Carbon Economy, so in response to Earth Day, the Taiwan Institute for Sustainable Energy has published the “ 2017 Survey on Taiwanese People’s Attitudes towards Climate Change and Energy ” results, aiming to ascertain public cognition of climate change and energy related issues” , while aspiring to offer objective analytical information, for use by industry, government, academia and relevant research institutions for reference in preparation or promotion of related public policies.

Overall, 93.1% of the public expressed agreement that climate change is indeed underway, with 73.1% of the public expressing that they are concerned about climate change issues, 48.9% feeling that they understand climate change, some 55.7% of the public engaging in discussions with their family and friends about climate change related topics, along with 64.2% of the public believing that our national energy savings and carbon reduction efficacy is insufficient, while 92.1% of those surveyed expressed strong support for the government development of alternative energy sources, and 54.3% of the citizenry felt that they have personally deployed assiduous efforts to implement energy saving and carbon reduction measures.

The citizenry felt that they appreciated the potential adverse affects that climate change could pose, with 60.1% thinking that climate change impacts were already threatening Taiwan, while the polling results indicated 63.7% thought our nation’s efficacy in reducing greenhouse gas emissions was ineffective, and that we were rightly being subjected to international pressure.

In terms of popular appreciation of climate change and energy related policies, 10.8% of the citizens surveyed expressed understanding of the Paris Accord goals of “Keeping 2100 Global Average Temperature Rise to within 2 Degrees Celsius of the Pre-Industrial Revolution Level), reflecting a decline from 2016 survey results of 6.1%; as for our government’s domestic public policy 35.8% of the citizenry had heard of the “Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction and Management Act”, which marked an increase of 7.7% from the 2016 polling results.

As for the public’s appreciation of electricity generation, some 26.9% correctly understood that our nation’s primary electricity source is generation by heating (coal), with 49.2% thinking that our main electricity source is nuclear power, this indicates that incorrect media reportage has misled the public; in terms of energy overhead, 33.3% of the public felt that nuclear energy production overhead was the highest, 22.3% thought that coal burning had the highest overhead, while 17.0% felt solar power generation overhead was highest; as for the largest environmental impact from energy production, 52.0% of the public thought coal burning was the most significant source, and 39.2% believed nuclear power generation impacts were the most significant.

As for government energy policies, some 33.7% of the public felt our nation’s electricity prices were too high, with 40.9% feeling that gas prices were too expenses; while 42.3% of the public thought our electricity prices were too cheap, and 35.2% felt our gas prices were too low.

This year’s survey results were compared with the findings of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and George Mason University’s November, 2016 publication of the results of their poll on Climate Change In The American Mind. The polling indicated that familiarity with climate change issue discussions were strong among both the US and Taiwan publics, with 57.6% and 69.0%, respectively stating they often discuss the issues; while recognition that climate change is currently under way was much higher among the Taiwan public (93.1%) than those in the American public who believe climate change is occurring (70.0%).

This year’s poll was conducted by the Taiwan Institute for Sustainable Energy, and polling was delegated to Trendgo Research, which held the telephonic polling between March 12 through 15th, 2017, using layered random sampling, for a total of 1,108 members of the Taiwan public aged 18 or more completing valid surveys, and with a 95% confidence and sampling error within plus or minus 2.95 percentage points.
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