- A new survey commissioned ahead of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing on 25-27 April 2019 has found that citizens of South Africans prefer renewable energy over coal.
- The results of the polling highlight that government energy policies and foreign investment packages, which currently favour coal, are at odds with citizen preferences for clean energy.
- The study also found that coal was also more associated with corruption than are renewable energy investments.
In the first multi-country survey of public opinion towards foreign investment in energy in Belt and Road Initiative countries, E3G commissioned YouGov to poll citizens of Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa, Turkey and Vietnam in April 2019.
E3G is an independent climate change think tank operating to accelerate the global transition to a low carbon economy.
In all six countries, citizens have a strong preference for clean energy rather than coal. Citizens feel that investing in solar power should be a high priority for the long-term development of their country, receiving the highest positive responses of all energy options in all six countries.
There are sharp differences between citizens’ views of clean and dirty energy technologies. Coal is the energy technology that respondents felt should be the lowest priority, ranked even lower than nuclear in four of the six countries.
Citizens views towards foreign investment in coal see it as contributing to increased pollution and climate change. Coal was also more associated with corruption than are renewable energy investments. In contrast the top response from citizens towards wind and solar is that these energy sources are viewed as being good for the economy in the long term.
In all six countries, a substantial majority of citizens polled responded that they would be Very Favourable towards foreign investment by governments, banks and companies when it is to support clean energy (ranging from 57% to 76% of responses).
In contrast, all countries saw only a minority of citizens respond that they would be Very Favourable towards foreign investment in fossil fuels (ranging from 13% to 32%). In Vietnam a majority of respondents (52%) viewed foreign investment in fossil fuels unfavourably.
Nick Mabey, Chief Executive of E3G commented “ This polling provides clear evidence that the citizens of the Belt and Road Initiative countries prefer clean energy investment over coal. China should now work with governments, business and investors at the upcoming Belt and Road Forum to make sure these demands are met.
The upcoming Belt and Road Forum in Beijing provides an opportunity to signal an end for international support for coal investment. Citizens across the member countries know that coal will only continue to exacerbate air pollution, climate change and corruption issues”
Author: Bryan Groenendaal