Public opinion in many countries with nuclear power programmes has become more opposed to the technology since 2005, a new poll for the BBC indicates. But the UK and the United States are bucking the trend with those polled becoming less opposed to nuclear energy than others.

Of those surveyed in countries with operational nuclear power plants, almost 70% are opposed to building new reactors. Around 40% said that their country should use nuclear power stations they already had, but not build new ones, with 30% saying that operating plants should be closed down as soon as possible. Just over one in five respondents said that more nuclear power plants should be built in their country.

Opposition to nuclear power has increased markedly in five countries since GlobeScan’s poll in 2005. The proportion opposing the building of new nuclear power stations has grown to near-unanimity in Germany (from 73% to 90%), but also increased significantly in Mexico (51% to 82%), Japan (76% to 84%), France (66% to 83%), and Russia (from 61% to 80%).

While still a minority view, support for building new nuclear plants has grown in the UK (from 33% to 37%), is stable in the USA (40% to 39%), and is also high in China (42%) and Pakistan (39%). These countries thus emerge as the most pro-nuclear of the countries surveyed with current nuclear plants, by some distance. Among the countries polled that do not have active nuclear plants, support for building them is highest in Nigeria (41%), Ghana (33%), and Egypt (31%).

International polling firm GlobeScan conducted the poll for BBC World Service between 3 July and 16 September 2011. A total of 23,231 people were polled in 23 countries.

GlobeScan Chairman, Doug Miller, comments, “The lack of impact the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan has had on public views towards nuclear power in the UK and US is noteworthy. This contrasts with significantly increased opposition to nuclear new-build in most countries we’ve tracked since 2005.”

“The biggest impact has been in Germany where the Merkel government’s new policy of shutting all its nuclear energy facilities is supported by 52% of Germans in this poll,” he said.

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