Survey by TU Ilmenau: Citizens want to accelerate energy transition because of Ukraine war
In view of the impact of the Ukraine war on energy supply in Germany, a clear majority of German citizens believe that the energy turnaround needs to be accelerated. This is one of the findings of a recent representative survey by theGroup for Media Research and Political Communication at the TU Ilmenau as part of the "Science Communication Energy Transition" project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.Even for the politically highly controversial immediate stop of all energy imports from Russia, almost half of the Germans are in favor, not even a quarter is against it.
Russia's war against Ukraine has fundamentally changed the debate about the energy transition. For many politicians, energy supply has become a "matter of national security" and renewable energies are referred to as "freedom energies". Under the pressure of being dependent on fossil energies from Russia, the energy transition is given top political priority and the German government wants to massively accelerate the expansion of renewable energies. According to the survey conducted by the TU Ilmenau in April of this year, an accelerated energy turnaround is supported by a clear majority of the population (58%). Far less than half (23%) are against a reorientation.
Even before the outbreak of the Ukraine war in February of this year, a clear majority of German citizens were in favor of implementing the energy turnaround. According to a survey of 2025 citizens between the ages of 14 and 65, also conducted by the Group for Media Research and Political Communication in August of last year, 74 percent were in favor of implementing the energy transition, while 15 percent opposed it. Dr. Dorothee Arlt, who conducted both studies, draws the conclusion that the fundamental attitude of the population to the energy turnaround must be considered outside the current crisis situation: "The energy turnaround is not a new topic. Even before the federal election in September 2021, the transformation of the energy system was a central campaign issue and was supported by a clear majority of citizens. However, people's perspective on the energy transition has shifted as a result of the war. Whereas at the time it was discussed primarily in connection with climate change, the focus is now on rising prices for fossil energies and the endangered security of supply."
Against the backdrop of the changed event situation due to the Ukraine war, the new study also looks at the question of which energy policy measures to secure the energy supply, relieve the financial burden and save energy are supported by the population and which tend to meet with rejection. In particular, there is broad support for greater state subsidies for the energy-efficient refurbishment of old buildings (69%) and financial relief for the population by setting upper limits for energy prices (64%) and compensatory payments for rising energy prices to the financially weaker (63%). A mandatory installation of photovoltaic systems on all existing industrial and commercial buildings (57%) and on all new buildings (55%) is also supported by the majority of the population. In the case of other measures, however, there is clear potential for conflict: while the introduction of a speed limit of 120 kilometers per hour on freeways is supported by just under half of those surveyed, at the same time around one third reject this measure. Even for the politically highly controversial immediate stop of all energy imports from Russia, 48 percent of the respondents are in favor and only 21 percent are against. Overall, there are relative majorities in favor of most of the proposed measures. There is more rejection than approval for only three proposals: The introduction of a speed limit of 30 kilometers per hour in city traffic, the introduction of a ban on driving on Sundays and the closure of industrial plants that require a lot of energy for production.
According to the respondents' assessment, there is less media coverage of climate protection in connection with energy supply today than eight months earlier, i.e. before the outbreak of the Ukraine war. A slight increase was perceived in the expansion of wind power (up 8%) and the use of solar energy (up 7%). The strongest change, however, can be seen in reporting on the import of energy sources such as natural gas and crude oil to Germany: while in 2021 only 27 percent of respondents thought this was frequently reported on in coverage of the energy transition, the figure is currently 63 percent - an increase of 36 percentage points.
Dorothee Arlt currently sees a lot of uncertainty on the subject of the energy turnaround: "This is evident not least from the fact that a large proportion of people have no opinion on almost all measures, or were unable or unwilling to make up their minds." Media coverage apparently also contributed to this. Half of those surveyed said they were unsettled (50%) and frightened (49%) by current energy reporting.
Prof. Jens Wolling
Head of Group Media Research and Political Communication
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