Poll shows 60 Percent of Public Supports Cap-and-Trade

60% of Americans say "yes" to cap-and-tradeAs the Senate Energy and Public Works Committee began hearings today on the Kerry-Boxer Clean Energy Jobs and American Act, the Senate version of climate and energy legislation, a CNN/Opinion Research poll shows 60% of respondents favor cap-and-trade, the central mechanism limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

In a survey conducted October 16 to 18, 1,038 adults were asked:

Under a proposal called “cap and trade,” the federal government would limit the amount of greenhouse gases that companies could produce in their factories or power plants. If companies exceeded those limits, they would either pay a fine or pay money to other companies that produced smaller amounts of greenhouse gases. Would you favor or oppose this proposal?”

60 percent of respondents were in favor, 37 percent opposed, and 3 percent had no opinion. There is the expected political divide on the issue, as well as a generational one. A majority of youngsters under 50, 68 percent, favor cap-and-trade, oldsters over 50 are split down the middle on the issue. If that has anything to do with older people suffering the short-term cost of transitioning to a decarbonized energy economy without much time to reap the rewards, combined  with younger people fearing the cost of inaction now on their later years, is pure speculation on my part.

CNN Polling Director Keating Holland had a more studied observation saying the poll is “one more example of the growing generation gap that is shaping politics and policy in this country. Younger Americans voted for Obama and tend to welcome change. Older Americans were less enamored of change in the 2008 election and senior citizens were the only age group that voted for John McCain.”

As for the politics, there is little surprise that 3 in 4 democrats favor climate legislation, along with 6 in 10 independents. Republicans grouse along, with only 4 in 10 stalwart souls able to buck the party and back an emissions trading scheme. Which highlights the importance of independents.

The support of independents will be crucial to any cap and trade proposal,” Holland says. “Independents may not be red or blue, but they appear to be green. Earlier polls indicate that Independents believe in global warming and believe that the government can take steps to curtail the problem. But the environment is not a big priority for Independents, as it is with Democrats.”

The poll was released barely a week after a Pew Research poll reported that fewer Americans believe that climate change is really happening, or if it is, human activity play no significant role in it.  So we American don’t believe that global warming is real, but just in case it is, we favor cap-and-trade – a kind of climate Pascal’s Wager.

The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

Additional source:
Energy and Environment News (subscription)

Thomas Schueneman
Thomas Schuenemanhttps://tdsenvironmentalmedia.com
Tom is the founder and managing editor of GlobalWarmingisReal.com and the PlanetWatch Group. His work appears in Triple Pundit, Slate, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, Earth911, and several other sustainability-focused publications. Tom is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

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  1. Have you seen the NBC/WSJ poll that found support for cap and trade is declining? The reason they found differently than CNN is because they asked more in-depth questions to gauge the actual beliefs of poll respondents, not merely one question designed to get the response they desired. Cap and trade will increase the costs of both the energy and the products we consume. If you add this into the equation, support for cap and trade drops precipitously. Our Congressmen need to hear how we feel about increased consumer costs and decreased jobs. Write your representatives at http://dontcapandtradeourjobs.net/?tr13.

    • Any poll is never free of bias. People should look to what the bills before Congress will do – the provisions to rebate consumers of energy costs, the incentives to create jobs. Are we happy with business as usual? Do we really think the present course is sustainable. If so, well, call your congressperson and tell them that: “keep doing what you’re doing.”
      If, on the other hand, you see opportunity for the U.S. to become a leader in the new energy economy, then call you congressperson and tell them to work toward creating new opportunity in a sustainable economy.
      It’s much too easy to say something won’t work and continue to suffer with the familiar. Courage demands we break out of that trap.


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