Risk perception, trust and public engagement in nuclear decision-making in Hong Kong

Daphne Ngar-yin Mah*, Peter Hills, Julia Tao

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)
57 Downloads (Pure)


The extent to which nuclear energy can be a feasible energy option has re-emerged as a subject of widespread debate following the Fukushima accident in Japan. However, relatively little is known about how public inputs can improve nuclear decision-making. This paper aims to provide a better understanding of public opinions regarding nuclear energy by examining its risk perception, trust and public engagement dimensions. Based on a survey of Hong Kong residents (n=509), we make some observations. Firstly, we offer empirical evidence that affirms the theoretical connections between risk perception, trust, and public engagement in the context of nuclear energy. Secondly, our logistic regression analysis indicates that demographics, trust, and perceptions of the efficacy of public engagement are factors explaining perceptions of greater risks and nuclear opposition. Thirdly, our conceptual model sheds light on the complexity of the trust concept, and specifies aspects of trust that are influential in the contexts of risk perception and nuclear choices. Our findings suggest that the Hong Kong government must ensure trust building receives prominent attention in nuclear decision-making, and that it should avoid excessive reliance on the business sector and should assume a key role for itself in enhancing trust in nuclear decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)368-390
Number of pages23
JournalEnergy Policy
Early online date18 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Energy(all)
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

User-Defined Keywords

  • Nuclear energy
  • Trust
  • Public engagement


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