Given the current economic crisis, now is the time to address climate change, not turn away from it. That’s the majority view according to a new post-election poll results released earlier this month by Environmental Defense Fund.
It seems that voters have made the connection between economic concerns and energy stability. And they see that investing in clean energy can create millions of new jobs and help rebuild the economy. In other words, we want our stimulus served up green.
Significantly, solid numbers of respondents reported they’d be willing to pay higher home energy bills in order to cut oil imports and reduce pollution—but only to a point. And a majority favored new regulations to promote environmental standards.
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- Fifty-eight percent of respondents said investments in new, clean energy could create millions of new jobs, so now is the time to address climate change. (Only 30 percent of respondents said that given high energy prices and the economic downturn, it is less important to address climate change.)
- Sixty-six percent said that Congress should fund economic stimulus with revenue generated from large companies that pay for the global warming pollution they create, rather than new taxes or more borrowing. As I see it, the question presents a false choice (polluters pay, raise taxes, or increase government debt…). Still, the responses point to potential support for auctioned permits in a cap and trade system, rather than free giveaways to polluters.
- Over three-quarters said it is important to address the problem of global warming, and half of the sample says that the issues of oil addiction and economic problems need to be addressed together. (Only 13 percent said Congress should delay dealing with our energy problems and focus on the our economy.)
- A plurality of voters (39 percent) believe that the best way to create jobs and stimulate the economy is to invest in building clean energy products, thus promoting energy independence and creating manufacturing jobs.
- A plurality (35 percent) felt that the highest priority for Congress was to pass a new plan to stimulate the economy by investing in renewable energy products (26 percent felt that the top priority should be to expand health insurance and 23 percent put regulation of the financial services industry as their top priority.)
- Three quarters of voters favored legislation to cut oil imports and reduce environmental pollution. Of those voters, majorities would continue to support such legislation even if their home energy bill increased by $5 and $10 a month (77 percent and 58 percent support, respectively). Only at a $15 increase a month did the numbers flip to 46 percent oppose and 42 percent support.
- Over six in ten said it was more important to implement new rules to make sure that companies produce clean, renewable energy to promote environmental standards (only a quarter of the sample said it was more important to limit the amount of regulation placed on businesses.)
The poll, conducted by telephone with a random sample of the American population, asked voters about the election, as well as a specific series of questions about environmental issues, climate change, and some of the tradeoffs facing the new administration. The margin of error for this poll is +/- 3.5 percent.