Statements from the President regarding climate change action have US pollsters scrambling to test public opinion on the topic. Results are mixed, though of the poll results that GallonDaily has seen most appear to show a majority of Americans, in the range of 60 – 65%, will support action to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
One of the most interesting recent polls comes from the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University. Conducted in mid-January, the poll finds that the percentage of Americans who believe that the climate is changing is at its highest level since 2006.
Perhaps more interesting to business is the finding that 64% of Americans strongly or somewhat favor regulating greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, factories and cars and requiring utilities to generate more power from “clean” low-carbon sources. Only 29 percent strongly or somewhat support a carbon tax. Support for a cap and trade program is also low.
If results are similar in Canada, or if the Canadian government eventually decides to follow a US lead, this may signal that greenhouse gas regulations are more likely than either a cap and trade program or a carbon tax. That may not be good news for industry. With public support for action on climate change likely to increase as evidence grows, perhaps it is time for industry to explore an exit strategy from the climate denial movement and a new initiative to encourage public support for economic instruments that have less financial impact on industry than typical regulations.
A press release, the poll results (top line only), and a 6 page policy brief are available at http://nicholasinstitute.duke.edu/pages/poll-americans-back-climate-change-regulation-not-taxes