Copenhagen deal vital to domestic support on climate change

An exclusive poll outlines that a Copenhagen deal is critical to winning public support for domestic green taxes. Support increases if a deal is reached.

An exclusive YouGov poll for Left Foot Forward outlines that a global deal at Copenhagen is critical to winning over public support for key domestic measures. Support for interventions that would increase motoring and flying costs increases dramatically in circumstances where a deal is reached.

YouGov interviewed 2095 adults on December 3rd and 4th. The results show that climate change remains a low priority – and has not increased in salience despite the wide media coverage of the issue in the past few weeks.

Even among the 24 per cent who say it’s a “big and urgent issue: radical steps need to be taken”, only 45 per cent say it is among the top issues facing the country, and only 36 per cent say is among the top issues facing them personally. But 46 per cent of people accept that “standards of living will have to rise more slowly.”

The public’s willingness to act has also fallen despite its higher profile in recent years but a strong deal could make a difference. Scepticism about the willingness of Russia, China and India to implement any deal, already high three years ago, is even higher now: only 13 per cent (down from 17 per cent) think they would implement any agreed measures. By contrast, faith in the US is up, though still not high. Four years ago 24 per cent thought they would implement agreed measures. Now, in the Obama era, the figure is up, but only to 34 per cent. There has been a sharp drop in the number thinking Britain should take a lead in fighting global warming, from 49 per cent to 36 per cent.

However, if there is a deal at Copenhagen, the willingness of people to accept higher motoring and flying costs goes up, from 26 per cent (when the same question is asked with no reference to Copenhagen) to 39 per cent, while the  number opposed to higher costs falls from 64 per cent to 46 per cent. There is majority support for greater investment in renewable energy regardless of the outcome at Copenhagen.

Conservative voters are far less willing to pay more than Labour or Liberal Democrat voters who have net support of 11 and 17 per cent respectively for higher green taxes.

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