Energy security is an important policy goal for most countries. Here, we show that cross-country differences in concern about energy security across Israel and 22 countries in Europe are explained by energy-specific and general national contextual indicators, over-and-above individual-level factors that reflect population demographics. Specifically, public concerns about import dependency and affordability reflect the specific energy context within countries, such as dependency on energy imports and electricity costs, while higher concerns about the affordability, vulnerability and reliability of energy are associated with higher fossil fuel consumption. More general national context beyond energy also appears to matter; energy security concerns are higher in countries that are doing less well in terms of economic and human well-being. These findings indicate that wider energy, social and economic context influence people’s feelings of vulnerability and sense of security, which may inform the development of effective energy security strategies that assuage public concerns.
This is a preview of subscription content
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $8.25 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
The European Social Survey Round 8 data that support the findings of this study are available from http://www.europeansocialsurvey.org/data/. The national indicators are provided in Supplementary Table 2, and can be obtained online from the International Energy Agency (https://www.iea.org/statistics/), the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (http://cdiac.ess-dive.lbl.gov/), World Bank (https://datacatalog.worldbank.org/), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (https://data.oecd.org/) and the Sustainable Society Foundation (http://www.ssfindex.com/data-all-countries/).
IEA Annual Report: World Energy Outlook (International Energy Agency, 2017).
Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (UN, 2015).
Skea, J. & Ekins, P. Energy 2050: Making the Transition to a Secure Low-Carbon Energy System (Routledge, London, 2010).
Umbach, F. Global energy security and the implications for the EU. Energy Policy 38, 1229–1240 (2010).
Boardman, B. Fixing Fuel Poverty: Challenges and Solutions (Earthscan, London, 2010).
DeCicco, J., Yan, T., Keusch, F., Muñoz, D. H. & Neidert, L. U.S. consumer attitudes and expectations about energy. Energy Policy 86, 749–758 (2015).
Demski, C., Poortinga, W. & Pidgeon, N. Exploring public perceptions of energy security risks in the UK. Energy Policy 66, 369–378 (2014).
Jones, C. R., Kaklamanou, D. & Lazuras, L. Public perceptions of energy security in Greece and Turkey: exploring the relevance of pro-environmental and pro-cultural orientations. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 28, 17–28 (2017).
Becker, S., Schober, D. & Wassermann, S. How to approach consumers’ nonmonetary evaluation of electricity supply security? The case of Germany from a multidisciplinary perspective. Utilities Policy 42, 74–84 (2016).
Spence, A. & Pidgeon, N. Psychology, climate change and sustainable behaviour. Environment 51, 8–18 (2009).
Sovacool, B. K. What are we doing here? Analyzing fifteen years of energy scholarship and proposing a social science research agenda. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 1, 1–29 (2014).
Demski, C., Butler, C., Parkhill, K. A., Spence, A. & Pidgeon, N. F. Public values for energy system change. Glob. Environ. Change 34, 59–69 (2015).
Sovacool, B. K. & Mukherjee, I. Conceptualizing and measuring energy security: a synthesized approach. Energy 36, 5343–5355 (2011).
Day, R., Walker, G. & Simcock, N. Conceptualising energy use and energy poverty using a capabilities framework. Energy Policy 93, 255–264 (2016).
Knox-Hayes, J., Brown, M. A., Sovacool, B. K. & Wang, Y. Understanding attitudes toward energy security: results of a cross-national survey. Glob. Environ. Change 23, 609–622 (2013).
Capstick, S., Whitmarsh, L., Poortinga, W., Pidgeon, N. & Upham, P. International trends in public perceptions of climate change over the past quarter century. Wiley Interdiscip. Rev. Clim. Change 6, 35–61 (2015).
Franzen, A. & Vogl, D. Two decades of measuring environmental attitudes: a comparative analysis of 33 countries. Glob. Environ. Change 23, 1001–1008 (2013).
Knight, K. W. Public awareness and perception of climate change: a quantitative cross-national study. Environ. Sociol. 2, 101–113 (2016).
Kim, S. Y. & Wolinsky-Nahmias, Y. Cross-national public opinion on climate change: the effects of affluence and vulnerability. Glob. Environ. Polit. 14, 79–106 (2014).
Sandvik, H. Public concern over global warming correlates negatively with national wealth. Climatic Change 90, 333–341 (2008).
Lee, T. M., Markowitz, E. M., Howe, P. D., Ko, C. Y. & Leiserowitz, A. A. Predictors of public climate change awareness and risk perception around the world. Nat. Clim. Change 5, 1014–1020 (2015).
Sovacool, B. K. et al. Exploring propositions about perceptions of energy security: an international survey. Environ. Sci. Policy 16, 44–64 (2012).
Sovacool, B. K. Differing cultures of energy security: an international comparison of public perceptions. Renew. Sustain. Energy Rev. 55, 811–822 (2016).
Ang, B. W., Choong, W. L. & Ng, T. S. Energy security: definitions, dimensions and indexes. Renew. Sustain. Energy Rev. 42, 1077–1093 (2015).
Sovacool, B. K. & Tambo, T. Comparing consumer perceptions of energy security, policy, and low-carbon technology: insights from Denmark. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 11, 79–91 (2016).
Blumer, Y. B., Moser, C., Patt, A. & Seidl, R. The precarious consensus on the importance of energy security: contrasting views between Swiss energy users and experts. Renew. Sustain. Energy Rev. 52, 927–936 (2015).
Poortinga, W., Spence, A., Demski, C. & Pidgeon, N. F. Individual-motivational factors in the acceptability of demand-side and supply-side measures to reduce carbon emissions. Energy Policy 48, 812–819 (2012).
Slovic, P., Finucane, M. L., Peters, E. & MacGregor, D. G. Risk as analysis and risk as feelings: some thoughts about affect, reason, risk, and rationality. Risk Anal. 24, 311–322 (2004).
Slovic, P., Finucane, M. L., Peters, E. & MacGregor, D. G. The affect heuristic. Eur. J. Oper. Res. 177, 1333–1352 (2007).
Demski, C., Evensen, D., Pidgeon, N. & Spence, A. Public prioritisation of energy affordability in the UK. Energy Policy 110, 404–449 (2017).
Third Report on the State of the Energy Union (European Commission, 2017).
Lo, A. Y. & Chow, A. T. The relationship between climate change concern and national wealth. Climatic Change 131, 335–348 (2015).
Butler, C., Parkhill, K. A. & Luzecka, P. Rethinking energy demand governance: exploring impact beyond ‘energy’ policy. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 36, 70–78 (2018).
Krosnick, J. Response strategies for coping with the cognitive demands of attitude measures in survey. Appl. Cogn. Psychol. 5, 213–236 (1991).
Button, K. S. et al. Power failure: why small sample size undermines the reliability of neuroscience. Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 14, 365 (2013).
Hopkins, D. Country comparisons. Nat. Clim. Change 5, 975–976 (2015).
Balžekiene, A. & Telešiene, A. in Green European: Environmental Behaviour and Attitudes in Europe in a Historical and Cross-Cultural Comparative Perspective (eds Telešiene, A. & Gross, M.) 31–55 (Routledge, London, 2017).
Brown, M. A., Wang, Y., Sovacool, B. K. & D’Agostino, A. L. Forty years of energy security trends: a comparative assessment of 22 industrialized countries. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 4, 64–77 (2014).
The European Social Survey (ESS) is a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC). Participating countries contribute to the central coordination costs of the ESS ERIC as well as covering the costs of their own fieldwork and national coordination. The contextual data were collected as part of the Public Attitudes to Welfare, Climate Change and Energy in the EU and Russia (PAWCER) project, funded under the ERA.Net RUS Plus programme (ID: 340).
The authors declare no competing interests.
Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Demski, C., Poortinga, W., Whitmarsh, L. et al. National context is a key determinant of energy security concerns across Europe. Nat Energy 3, 882–888 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41560-018-0235-8
Environmental Science and Pollution Research (2021)
Energy, Sustainability and Society (2019)