Public Perceptions and the Policy-Making Process

Regulators and policy-makers in the energy sector face the challenge of identifying and balancing differentiated and often competing policy objectives. The subtheme deals with national-level decision making and associated institutions and the role played by politics, including key stakeholders (from industry, government, NGOs, academia) and the general public.
One broad area examines public attitudes and public perceptions of energy demand and supply measures. As the intense public reaction to rising fuel prices in 2000 demonstrated, public acceptance of policy measures relating to energy can affect the direction of public policy. More recent swings in fuel prices also have implications for public, and hence political, support for a range of policies including climate change policy, energy market liberalisation and regulation.
As a cross-cutting issue, energy issues often cross departmental and administrative boundaries and one of the challenges is to formulate government policies and firm strategies that are appropriate for the organisation or the polity in question.
Research in this area includes:
  • Surveying public attitudes towards energy demand and supply and the environment
  • Evaluation of the willingness-to-pay by the public to accept the key trade-offs involved in energy and environmental policy
  • Stakeholder attitudes towards new technologies and institutional arrangements
  • Evaluation of the governance structures in place to address energy policy in the UK and internationally