Poll shows governments lag behind citizens in readiness to tackle global warming

Mon, 2007-11-05 14:00Bill Miller
Bill Miller's picture

Poll shows governments lag behind citizens in readiness to tackle global warming

A sweeping global survey conducted for BBC World Service has found people are far more willing to make financial and lifestyle sacrifices to arrest climate change than most leaders acknowledge.

But whatever else politicians think of the findings, they will certainly pounce on respondents’ willingness to pay higher taxes. Canadians are among world leaders in willingness to accept potential lifestyle changes and higher taxes to address climate change, according to a new poll.

The global survey of more than 22,000 people in 21 countries, including 1,000 Canadians, suggests that citizens in general – including those in China and the U.S., respectively the world's biggest polluters – are more prepared than their governments to support tough measures.

The poll showed 50% of respondents in favor of hiking energy taxes to discourage use, versus 44% opposed. Support swung sharply in favor, even in the most skeptical countries, when respondents were assured the money would be used to find alternative clean energy sources, or for personal tax cuts.

Just 46% of Americans said they were prepared to support higher energy taxes, for example, but when asked if they'd accept a higher tax if they knew the money would go to renewable energy investments, the figure jumped to 74%.

It’s a rare politician who’s ever seen a tax increase he or she didn’t like. For months, trial balloons have been testing opinions on “higher taxes to save the environment.” When the next round of tax hikes comes, lets hope they spend as effectively to get us out of the mess we’re in as they did shoving us into it.

Comments

I’m surprised this isn’t the top story, Bill. That’s some kick ass info. Thanks.

“The poll, conducted between May 29 to June 26, 2007, found that an “overwhelming” 91% of Canadians believe people must make unspecified personal “lifestyle and behaviour” changes to reduce their own climate-changing emissions.” – From National Post story

I wonder what the reaction will be when those personal and lifestyle changes are spelled out? The devil is always in the details.

You’re right, John. It’s going to be difficult. What say we get on with figuring out the details? I think shift toward a carbon tax is best (with reductions in income tax).

I, for one, am not ready to pay any taxes, carbon or otherwise, to address a phantom menace like global warming. First you have to make the AGW case, Steve.

All you have now is an unproven hypothesis backed up with suspect climate models. Just because a lot of environmentalists have accepted these fudged model projections as fact and spun doomsday scenarios around them to help with fund-raising, it doesn’t make them real.

You know it might be good if government actually propopsed a tax on carbon because that would get peoples’ attention. If it becomes a pocketbook issue, people will take a close look as the so-called scientific evidence for global warming. Careful what you wish for, Steve.

Rob also doesn’t understand what proof means in terms of science. I’ll recommend to you the same thing I recommended to him: look up Karl Popper or the philosophy of science. You can spout your ignorant opinions about whether or not the scientific consensus is well-founded – you don’t understand science so nobody will pay you any attention.
Why should more taxes be applied to carbon emissions? Well, of course there’s SFU economist Mark Jaccard’s research that states a phased-in approach will hardly cost us, especially if taxes are shifted. But there are others, too. Here’s something from the Wall Street Journal (I chose a source that you should not object to ideologically – you’re welcome):

http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/econoblog08032005.htm

They suggest a carbon tax, too. How about that? (Also, please note that I think taxes applied to carbon should reduce income tax.)

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Disruption

This is a guest post by Zach Roberts.

As a documentary producer, I watch more than my fair share of environmental protest documentaries — probably about 20 a year. And almost all of them have the same, vague message: we need to do something!

Their scenes re-play like a bad video montage in my mind: earnest young people speaking at podiums, boring climatologists rambling on about the coming end of the world, forest fires, melting ice shelves, you know how it goes. In the lefty journalism world, we call this “preaching to the choir.”

Then there's Disruption,...

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