There have been a slew of surveys coming out lately showing what Americans supposedly want or don't want in terms of energy policy, climate policy and about climate change more broadly. I say supposedly, because the results of these different surveys don't always jive with one another. This latest one, by the US Climate Task Force, and highlighted by The Energy Collective, says that US voters think a straight carbon tax is a better idea than the current only option on the table, cap-and-trade:The study, "Energy and Climate Change Policy: A Survey Among American Voters" was conducted a bit earlier than some of the other recent ones--in fact before COP15--and says "voters express considerably greater support for a carbon tax approach": 57% in favor and 37% opposed. This particular survey shows 46% of voters supporting cap-and-trade and 46% opposing.
When voters were asked to directly choose carbon tax or cap-and-trade the results showed a carbon tax winning by a wide margin: 58% to 27%.
The report explains:
Importantly, this preference for a carbon tax approach holds up across the electorate, including among Democrats, Independents, and Republicans, votes in every income bracket, voters in each region of the country, voters who consider themselves environmentalists as well as those who do not.
One aspect of this survey which is backed up by others: Not too many people have even heard of either approach. 35% of people responded saying they had never even heard the term cap-and-trade before, with 26% saying they know only a very little about it. Carbon tax had 31% of people being entirely unaware of the term, with a further 26% knowing little about it.
The Biggest Thing is That Few Even Think About Pricing Carbon
More than espousing either cap-and-trade or a carbon tax by presenting this survey--and I admit that the results happen to correspond well with the US Climate Task Force's avowed mission of singing the praises of a carbon tax over cap-and-trade--I think the real take away from this is the the average American really hasn't been made aware of either approach. (Still less cap-and-dividend...)
Those of us in the green community should take this is a message: If we all agree that setting a price on carbon is essential for both getting a handle on climate change and creating a more ecologically sustainable society more broadly, we've got to engage in a much bigger education effort on this one.
Read the original report: US Climate Task Force: Climate Change Policy Survey
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