Monday, February 16, 2009
We just completed the second phase of a poll in New Jersey supported by PSEG on attitudes toward global warming policy. In an earlier poll we had been struck by the high degree of support for more government action. That is confirmed in these results. 66% believe the Federal government should play a major role in combating global warming. We find dramatic results when it comes to specific policy - 84% of respondents believe utility companies should be forced to use more renewable sources of energy and 80% of respondents support mandating higher energy conservation standard in new buildings and renovations – even though only 58% of respondents believe global warming is a fact and is mostly caused by human activity! That is the good news. The bad news is the drop in support when such policies are framed in terms of costs to the respondents themselves. Support for increasing energy from renewable sources drops to 49% when it is associated with 20% increase in utility prices. And support for higher building standards drops to 65% if it were to entail a 10% increase in the costs of construction. Most telling, only 17% would support the use of gas taxes to discourage driving. These results underscore how “soft” support for these policies is and how much work needs to be done to consolidate such support before such policies begin to bite.