Exploring public perceptions of energy security risks in the UK

Christina Demski, Wouter Poortinga, Nick Pidgeon

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53 Citations (SciVal)


Along with climate change and affordability, concerns about energy security are key drivers behind proposals for major energy system change in the UK and numerous other countries. Unlike climate change we know very little about how the public thinks and feels about this aspect of sustainability and energy policy. Beyond engaging critically with conceptual and theoretical discussions, empirical data from two surveys (Cardiff postal survey, N=520; online UK survey, N=499) using a ten item energy security scale are presented and discussed. Here we show that aspects of energy security are certainly of concern to the UK public, with particularly high concern around dependence on fossil fuels/imports and relatively lower expressed concern for actual disruption of energy supply. However public concerns around energy security are only emerging, and likely to change depending on the context in which it is discussed (e.g. in comparison to climate change). In addition, findings from public interviews are used to further contextualise the survey findings, showing unfamiliarity among the UK public with regards to the term "energy security". We discuss implications, and further work that would be useful for understanding public perceptions in more depth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-378
Number of pages10
JournalEnergy Policy
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a major Understanding Risk Group research Grant from the Leverhulme Trust ( F/00407/AG ). It was also partly supported by the UK Energy Research Centre under the Natural Environment Research Council award NE/G007748/1 (Grant NE/I006753/1 ). The authors would like to thank all of the respondents who participated in this research.


  • Climate change
  • Energy security
  • Public perceptions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy(all)
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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