Public Risk Perceptions and Nuclear Energy in Britain

25 April 2019, 5.30 PM - 25 April 2019, 7.00 PM

Professor Nick Pidgeon MBE, Cardiff University

Peel Lecture Theatre, School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol

Professor Nick Pidgeon from Cardiff University will give the annual COGER public lecture on the topic of ‘nuclear power and environmental risk'.

The presentation reviews the history of academic research on nuclear power risk perceptions, highlighting the important role played by trust. It moves on to consider how views of nuclear in Britain have evolved over the past 15 years, drawing upon empirical evidence from national surveys and an in-depth study of communities around existing nuclear facilities.

Many people in Britain still hold only a ‘reluctant acceptance’ of nuclear power when placed in relation to their beliefs about both climate change and energy security. At local sites views are more complex, and dependent upon a number of factors (geography, trust, benefits, safety). While most local people expressed a familiarity and acceptance of a local station, anxieties always exist below the surface of discourse. The talk concludes with consideration of the impacts of the Fukushima accident on British public perceptions, as compared to those in Japan.

This talk forms part of the Co-ordinating Group on Environmental Radioactivity (COGER) Annual Meeting. 

Speaker: Nick Pidgeon is Professor of Environmental Risk and Director of the Understanding Risk Research Group at Cardiff University.

His research looks at public engagement, communication of, and decision-making for environmental and energy technology risks, including that of civilian nuclear power. Nick chaired the 2006 Cross-Party Parliamentary inquiry ‘Is a Cross-Party Consensus on Climate Change Possible – or Desirable?’ which recommended the setting up of the UK Climate Change Committee. He has been a science advisor at both the Department of Energy and Climate Change and at DEFRA, and is currently a member of Department of Transport’s Science Advisory Council.

He was awarded an MBE in the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to climate change awareness and energy security policy, and has conducted numerous detailed studies of UK attitudes towards nuclear energy.

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