Behind Energy survey: “Italians’ attitudes to energy”

Behind Energy survey: “Italians’ attitudes to energy”

Italians increasingly concerned about energy issues and environment:

majority of italians say oil is expensive and the cause of war while 3 out of 4 think pollution is one of the primary causes of death.

Behind Energy, a new site collating the most authoritative research on the true costs of energy, publishes results of the first survey on Italian attitudes to energy.


The link between energy and pollution is common knowledge with 94% of Italians seeing energy production and consumption as a cause of pollution. The main reasons for these negative externalities are (in decreasing order of importance): oil, nuclear and coal. Solar and wind are at the bottom of the list.

In public opinion, the connection between pollution and health is equally clear: 72% of respondents identify pollution as one of the main causes of death.

These are some of the key findings from the first survey on the cost of energy, conducted by Twig and commissioned by Behind Energy (, a new online platform bringing together the world’s most authoritative research, reports and articles looking into the true cost of energy. The analysis is based on interviews conducted with 1,000 people (an 800-person sample of the general population plus 200 business people and senior managers).

“These results should help to inform debate in Italy on the various sources of energy and guide the views of politicians and policy makers with regards to our energy future,” stated Michele Appendino, chairman of Behind Energy. “The Italian public and its business community are ready for a more balanced discussion about our choices on these issues because they understand energy impacts in terms of pollution, health, environmental disasters and the economic cost of externalities generated by choices made in the past about energy policy.”

The leading problems that are related to the environment in the view of Italians are pollution, natural disasters and waste disposal. Business people, contrary to the rest of the population, see pollution and waste disposal as the most pressing issues while the “man in the street” gives more importance to environmental disasters given their prominence in news bulletins.

The survey suggests that Italians are extremely interested in energy topics: 86% of the sample said they were interested in energy and the economic crisis appears to have changed Italians’ perspectives.

For a majority of respondents (60%), renewable energy sources are the main solution for resolving energy problems, followed in second place by a reduction in consumption and greater energy efficiency. Continued exploitation fossil fuels isn’t even thought of as a solution to energy problems.

Despite the drop in fuel prices in recent months, increasing energy costs – in part linked to the exhaustion of fossil fuels – continues to be a source of concern. Energy has a high perceived impact on family budgets and also on business, especially for professionals surveyed.

For the first time, the research analysed spontaneous attributions between a range of adjectives and different energy sources. Fossil fuels and nuclear power were associated with negative judgements such as “expensive”, “ugly”, “dangerous” and “damaging for health”. On the other hand, solar was found to be connected with “indispensible” and not just solar as “green” or ecological. The rhetoric about incentives seems to have hit home: solar and wind are seen at the top of the list in terms of energy sources receiving most incentives. Surprisingly, however, one in three respondents also identified oil among the most heavily supported sources of energy. Oil is also seen as a cause of war for 83% of respondents.

When it comes to environmental issues, there has traditionally been among Italians a marked difference between opinion (and values) and behaviour. Until recently, environmental awareness has not often resulted in lifestyle changes or in a different set of priorities. The results of this research highlight that, even as a result of the continuing economic crisis, we are faced with a fundamental change of approach on this front.

Note on method:

Survey conducted by Twig Srl for Behind Energy Srl based on a national sample representative of the Italian population (age 18-74) by sex, age, education, place of residence and size of local council. A total of 1,000 interviews were conducted (out of 7,026 contacts) by CAWI system on 5-8 November. The full document will be published on


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