wo-thirds of Polish people support the plans to construct a new nuclear power plant in Poland, above all because this would increase Polish energy independence. The Polish public wants their country to be less reliant on Russia and other suppliers and believes renewable energy and nuclear energy are the best options for this. They appear to have less enthusiasm for shale gas and coal. These results appear from a poll conducted by PISM, the Polish Institute of International Affairs, announced on 25 August.
With the appointment of Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk as the new President of the European Council, Polish energy policy takes on new importance within the European Union. Tusk has already made his mark on the European energy debate in April of this year with his plea for an “Energy Union”, which would include collective buying of gas. This proposal is still being discussed by European leaders.
The strong Polish desire for European and national independence is directly related to the dramatic events in Ukraine, which have created high tension among the Polish public and have resulted in a stark increase in sensitivity to national security. The highest level of perceived insecurity was recorded in March 2014 when Russia seized control over the Crimean peninsula, but even now more than half the Polish population still believes that the persisting crisis in Ukraine poses a threat to Poland’s security. Furthermore, for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, those who consider Poland’s independence to be in peril outnumber those who see no such danger.
In this paper I discuss the results of research carried out by PISM, focused in particular on the topic of nuclear energy. It concerns quantitative face-to-face interviews, analysed with the use of the CAPI system, carried out in the spring of 2014 among a random, representative sample of 1,000 adult inhabitants of Poland. It is part of the research project “Nuclear energy in Poland: balance sheet and future outlook.” I will also refer in this article to a survey on Poland’s security perception conducted in Summer 2014 by the Polish public opinion research center CBOS.
It is clear from our research that, given Polish over-reliance on Russian energy resources, i.e., oil and gas, the issue of energy independence has gained particular recognition in the eyes of the Polish public. Among potential solutions, renewable energy (58%) and nuclear power generation (48%) are favoured by the largest share of society. Shale gas extraction and development of coal-based technologies (8%) are considered by respectively 21% and 8% of respondents as other potentially viable options. The relatively low support for the latter two may signify that Poles are persuaded that regardless of Warsaw’s diversification efforts, continued reliance on fossil fuels will inevitably perpetuate energy dependence on Moscow due to Russia’s role as the country with the largest global oil, gas and coal reserves.