The public’s intention to vote for continued use of woody biomass for energy in Denmark: a cognitive hierarchy perspective

Paula Ugarte Lucas, Thomas Bøker Lund , Christian Gamborg

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To be socially robust, renewable energy policies aiming at achieving a low-carbon society require public support. Woody biomass is an important renewable energy source. It accounts for a large share of the renewable energy consumption in several EU countries. However, its sustainability credentials are contested. Little is known as yet about how the public perceives woody biomass. This paper aims to examine the public’s intention to vote for continued use of woody biomass, and to find out whether this voting intention can be explained using the cognitive hierarchy model. This model posits that values, attitudes and beliefs predict higher order cognitions like intention. We extend the model by including an additional variable (perceived benefit). Although the model is widely used in connection with natural resource management issues, it has not yet been applied to the case of increasingly contested energy sources like woody biomass. We use Denmark as a case study given that woody biomass makes up the largest share of the renewable energy mix in the country.

Results of a nationwide questionnaire-based survey of the general public show that a large proportion of Danes are undecided about their attitudes towards, and their intention to vote for, woody biomass. Structural equation modeling results show that belief in the mitigation potential of woody biomass has a significant positive effect on both attitudes and voting intention. Altruistic and egoistic values have a significant positive effect on attitudes, which in turn have a significant positive influence on voting intention. We also confirm the mediating role of attitudes.

Understanding public opinion-making processes can help to promote environmental decision-making that takes due account of public perceptions of the ways in which energy transitions come about. The cognitive hierarchy model is an apt framework with which to predict voting intention in the context of contested energy sources.
Idioma originalEnglish
Nombre de pàgines17
RevistaEnergy, Sustainability and Society
Estat de la publicacióPublicada - 7 de des. 2023


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