Journal Article

Public acceptance of sustainable energy innovations in the European Union: A multidimensional comparative framework for national policy

March 15, 2022

Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 340

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Public acceptance of sustainable energy innovations and policies is of crucial importance in enabling the transition to decarbonized energy systems necessary to meet the key climate targets of the Paris Agreement. This is particularly important in the context of the European Union, which is the third largest energy-related greenhouse gas emitter in the world. However, achieving acceptance is complex and requires improved understanding of the underlying conditions that are likely to motivate it. To contribute to this understanding and overcome common shortcomings in the literature, this paper presents a multidimensional and cross-national framework for the factors that have the potential to motivate both dimensions of acceptance, namely adoption and support. The innovations of interest are numerous and include electric vehicles, residential solar panels, energy-efficient home insulation, environmental taxes and incentives. The paper employs multilevel regression analysis and combines individual and contextual data from all the European Union nations to demonstrate the significance of various types of predictors in motivating acceptance. It is found that citizens’ personal capabilities and attitudes towards life satisfaction, climate change and the environment influence both dimensions of acceptance. Attitudes towards broader socio-political dimensions such as representation, equity and transparency primarily influence support, whereas national environmental and energy policy indicators primarily influence adoption. Overall, this paper provides evidence suggesting governments should simultaneously address both dimensions of acceptance, through a combination of different means: enhancing support through strategies that target attitudes and preferences, and market-based environmental policies that promote adoption at the household level.