Times’ climate change poll contains good news and bad

Times poll showed that 41% of voters think that “climate change is happening & ... largely man made.” But the public is more positive on green policy.

On Saturday, The Times splashed on a Populus poll showing that only 41 per cent of voters think that “climate change is happening and is now established as largely man made.” But the headline hid more positive reactions to various green policy measures.

Without wishing to downplay The Times’ worrying top line finding, as interesting were the poll results on green taxes and regulations. In particular:

  • 57 per cent would support “new taxes on air travel with the aim of reducing the number of flights people take.”
  • 68 per cent would support “much higher taxes on cars that use a lot of petrol and emit a lot of carbon dioxide.”
  • 87 per cent support “New building regulations for all new houses to meet highest standards of insulation and make more use of renewable energy such as solar power, even if it increases costs.”
  • 69 per cent support “Setting limits on carbon dioxide emissions making companies pay for emissions, even if it results in higher prices for manufactured goods and energy.”

    The Times manages to interpret this data as a sign that “voters … will resist new green taxes.”

    The editorial laments “a failure of political communication” and notes how “none of the main parties has yet succeeded in making this issue its own” and ends with this brilliant line:

    “Lord Rees (President of the Royal Society) has reminded us that we now live in a global village and it is, he pointed out, probably inevitable that there will be some global village idiots.”

    His comments only underline the point, noted by Grist that, “Public opinion on matters of science is of great interest for a great many reasons, but it is a poor guide for public policy.”

    According to the paper’s poll, Conservative voters are more dubious than Labour and Lib Dem supporters. This will not come as a surprise to anyone who has ever taken a peep at the Conservative blogosphere.

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