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Public acceptability of gas production in the province of Groningen has further decreased and people experience stronger negative emotions. These are some of the findings of the fifth measurement of a longitudinal study, carried out by the University of Groningen since 2013, on the opinions of inhabitants of the province of Groningen about the gas production.
The study shows that public acceptability of gas production in the Groningen gas field continues to decrease. Respondents believe that gas extraction should be reduced; this is particularly true for people living in the area most strongly affected by the earthquakes caused by gas production. During the course of the research, respondents have become increasingly convinced that gas extraction should be cut back.
In general, respondents think that future earthquakes will be stronger and more frequent. Participants in all regions in the province of Groningen are concerned about the earthquakes, and their concerns have grown slightly compared to the previous measurement. They believe that the earthquakes can have negative consequences for houses (damage and decrease in value) and the image of the province of Groningen. In addition, participants think that earthquakes can have negative consequences for the attractiveness of the living environment and the cultural heritage of the province of Groningen. Respondents consider other consequences, such as physical injury, less likely. It is striking that respondents think that earthquakes are more likely to have negative consequences for inhabitants of the province of Groningen in general than for themselves personally.
Participants feel powerless when they think about earthquakes. They also feel rather indignant, disappointed, angry, somewhat helpless, uneasy, hopeless and sober. Negative emotions are more intense than in the previous measurement. The more people are exposed to earthquakes, the more negative emotions they experience.
Respondents were asked to what extent they want to take actions to reduce the risks of earthquakes. The main response was to sue responsible parties and to reduce own consumption of gas. In addition, but to a lesser extent, people want to take protective measures at home and convince others to use less gas.
Trust in all relevant parties has diminished compared with the previous measurement, except for trust in the Dutch government, which remained similar. Participants still have less trust in the Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (NAM) and the Dutch government than in the province of Groningen and their own municipality.
Since November 2013, the University of Groningen (UG) has been conducting independent research on the public opinion about gas production in the province of Groningen. The fifth measurement of the study was carried out in February and March 2018. Alongside the points mentioned above, the researchers also studied the way that damage reports and constructional reinforcement were dealt with, and opinions about the mitigation measures being taken. The research is being conducted by Leonie Vrieling, MSc, Dr. Goda Perlaviciute and Prof. Linda Steg (Environmental Psychology). The respondents represent the population in the province of Groningen. They were randomly selected in three regions that vary in exposure to earthquakes: the most affected area and surrounding areas. This makes it possible to compare the opinions of people who are much affected by earthquakes and people who are less affected. A total of 349 people took part in the fifth measurement.
As of March 1, 2021, Jochem Tolsma has been appointed as professor by special appointment of Social Divisions between Groups in the Department of Sociology at the University of Groningen.
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