Cut carbon, not consumption, GCC consumers say

Consumers want to reduce the carbon footprint, not energy consumption.

A shift towards alternative energy is welcome, but consumers are not willing to cut back on energy use.
A shift towards alternative energy is welcome, but consumers are not willing to cut back on energy use.

Nine out of every ten consumers in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region want their country to reduce its reliance on fossil fuelled power generation, but over two thirds say that using less energy is not the solution, according to a survey.

When responding to a global survey conducted by management consultancy firm Accenture, 90 percent of GCC consumers said it is important or very important for their country to reduce reliance on fossil fuelled power generation. The primary reason, identified by 45% of consumers, was to reduce carbon emissions.

“There’s definitely a recognition that this is something that is here to stay and its on peoples agendas,” says Omar Boulos Omar Boulos managing director at Accenture, of the region’s growing environmental awareness.

However, only 33 percent of respondents think that using less energy is the priority. 67 percent said that the answer lies in developing low carbon sources of energy.

“We cannot address climate change unless we both create new sources of clean energy and reduce consumer demand,” comments Boulos “But our survey shows that consumers do not think lower energy use is a priority.”

Moreover, confidence in nuclear energy is higher than the global average, as two thirds of respondents think that nuclear power must be part of the move to low carbon energy sources in the region.

While 13 percent of participants from the GCC said that importance of nuclear power for electricity generation should be increased, a further 54 percent say that both nuclear and renewables should be increased. This brings the proportion of consumers who support the increased use of nuclear to 67 percent, far higher than the global average of 50 percent.

“If you look at the announcements made by governments over the last two years, in countries such as Saudi Arabia or Egypt, it has become clear that nuclear energy is something that should be considered,” says Boulos. “And people are accepting that.”

In government we trust

The survey, which covered Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Oman and Kuwait, also shows that nine out of ten consumers want more government intervention in the energy market to combat energy challenges.

When asked if more government intervention is required in the energy market, two thirds of consumers agreed strongly, far higher than the 45 percent global average. In all, 90 percent think there should probably or certainly be more government intervention.

“The finding point to high trust levels in the Middle East towards government, and towards organisations,” says Boulos. “Compared to the rest of the world, the region lies in between the US, where trust is lowest, and Japan, where it is highest.”

The Accenture’s study, termed The New Energy World, A Consumer Perspective, is based on an online survey conducted in native languages with 9,005 consumers in 22 countries worldwide, during November 2009. The sample included 1,500 people in North America, 3,502 in Western Europe, and at least 500 in each of Australia, Japan, China, India, South Korea, the Middle East, Brazil and Mexico.


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