Wednesday, May 21, 2008

British Columbia GHG Emissions Poll

Interesting survey of British Columbians opinions on the environment and the need to "pay more" to reduce GHG emissions. The Decima poll also found British Columbian's reject the Baird copout that Canada can't act "unilaterally":
Most British Columbians now believe they have an individual responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, even if other people don't do the same, according to a new poll on environmental attitudes.

The survey by Harris/Decima also found that British Columbians want Canada to do what it can to reduce climate change, regardless of whether other countries take similar action.

On cost:
The survey found 75 per cent of British Columbians say they are prepared to alter their behaviour significantly to fight climate change. And that 66 per cent are prepared to pay more money for many products designed to address environmental problems.

The Baird argument, that any action must include India and China:
A strong majority of respondents -- 90 per cent -- disagree with the argument that Canada should do nothing to reduce emissions unless big emitting countries such as China and India do as well.

People are prepared to lead.

The most relevant finding, primarily because British Columbians already have the practical when it comes to "paying more" for harmful practices, is that 2/3 are prepared to accept a hit to their wallet. You could argue, this type of finding supports Dion's looming tax shift policy.

That said, there are conflicting signals. A poll released after the carbon tax was rolled out in British Columbia, found solid rejection of the idea:
Some 61 per cent of people surveyed called the carbon tax "bad," while only 25 per cent said they approve of the impending tax.

That would seem a pretty convincing warning sign for Dion, but that number is inflated, when you consider the framing of the question:
At issue is the structure of the central poll question, which asks people to select a reason why they support or oppose the tax, as opposed to just having respondents answer yes or no.

For example, of the people who oppose the carbon tax, 33 per cent said they did so because carbon fuels are already heavily taxed. Another 26 per cent said they oppose the tax because they believe the federal and provincial governments should work together on a solution. And two per cent rejected the tax because they don't believe carbon fuels cause climate change.

"It looks to me like 51 per cent support the idea, with the variation being that there is a chunk that disagree on the timing," said Taylor.

"They think we should wait until everyone is doing it at the same time. I think we could read this in a way that says the ones that say 'out-and-out, no carbon tax,' are about 35 per cent."

Factor in the portion who rejected because they wanted both levels of government to work together, and you are left with 1/3 outright rejecting, the rest a function of circumstances. That actually jives with the Decima poll, 1/3 who didn't believe they should "pay more" to fight climate change.

Another factor to consider, if Dion's proposals don't include a further direct tax on gasoline, it will be somewhat different than the B.C. plan, the potential to be more popular.

Changing gears, one of the chief criticisms, the looming tax shift will unfairly target the "poor", putting them further behind, introducing a new burden. According to one economist, who studied the B.C. tax shift, the opposite is true:
Poorer families 'slightly ahead'

Marc Lee, senior economist with the CCPA, said Tuesday the budget seems to have done a reasonably good job of considering economic fairness.

On the face of it, he said, "It looks pretty good."

The budget promises to give back the revenues raised by its new carbon tax by giving tax breaks to businesses and individuals, as well as a one-time $100 payout to everyone in the province.

The plan "pretty much would equalize the situation for lower-income families, if not put them slightly ahead," Lee said. "If you were able to make some purchases that increase your energy efficiency, you could save money on balance."

"Slightly ahead" is a far cry from the fear mongering that any tax shift will be placed on the backs of the poor. At the very least, the above conclusions serve to counter these blanket criticisms.


Anonymous said...

>>And that 66 per cent are prepared to pay more money for many products designed to address environmental problems.<<

Paying more money for products is a far cry from "are you willing to pay more to heat your home"... far diffrent

Steve V said...

Gee, I thought prepared t pay more meant prepared to pay more, but I guess it's just semantics.

JimmE said...

On the GHG topic have you read this bonehead's bunk in the G&M? :
With junk of the kind Mr Reynolds' writes it's surprising the numbers you point out are as high as they are.

Anonymous said...

Dion needs to make the package accessible, common sense and fair and have it examplify his call for a "richer, fairer, greener Canada". A richer Canada that embraces investment, research and innovation in a green economy. It needs to be marketed - just a few key points which every caucus member needs to put forth every chance.

bigcitylib said...

Yeah, this is the kind of poll that makes me happy, and makes me think that the Libs can come up with an eminently saleable package on the issue.

Being cynical, I would employ the "taxing big polluters" ploy and then let THEM pass costs down the the consumer. I think this has been Ques. approach. I think they've even made it illegal to pass costs on, though of course that is 100% unenforcable.

I would also try to make the plan rural sensitive, esp. considering some of the complaints coming out of Northern B.C. re the B.C. carbon tax. The Libs should be aiming for people outside of their base with their plan. Tney're an inclusive party. Everyone should have a chance to win.

Steve V said...

"Dion needs to make the package accessible"

On nice thing, Dion has the benefit of absorbing all the howls of criticism, which means the "package" can consider the potential talking points. I know some are ansy about getting it out now, for fear of being defined, but in the end, this preamble will be an advantage, everyone has already exposed themselves.

I agree, MP's should puppet the same lines over and over, to help certain concepts stick.


I hope there are some exceptions for people in rural areas. There is a big difference between a Hummer and F150, used for practical purposes, a necessity in many ways.

Anonymous said...

According to the poll you quote, the vast majority of Canadians want to change their lifestyles in order to reduce their "carbon footprint". So obviously, if the desire is there - there is no need to put in a carbon tax in the first place - people will do it anyways!!

Drew Adamick said...

I want to see a regional breakdown of this poll. I can probably bet that once you look at what the findings are in the GVRD, Vancouver Island, the Interior and the North, you may see a slightly different picture. I would bet that support in the Interior and Fraser Valley would be lower than the GVRD (and interestingly, corresponding with where the Conservatives are stronger in BC).

Steve V said...

"I would bet that support in the Interior and Fraser Valley would be lower than the GVRD (and interestingly, corresponding with where the Conservatives are stronger in BC)."

Fine with me, if you doing a regional breakdown, then the prospects for the Liberals look better. I doubt they can compete in ridings that have gone 50-60% Conservative, so it's a net plus.


"So obviously, if the desire is there - there is no need to put in a carbon tax in the first place - people will do it anyways!!"

Spoken like a do nothing Conservative.

Anonymous said...

You're barking up the wrong tree. I'm no Conservative at all. I want to see a rigorous cap and trade system that puts major penalties on large corporate polluters and that will use any new revenue to put money into public transit and green initiatives - none of this revenue neutral crap. The only possible rationale for a Carbon Tax is to generate revenue for government programs to reduce gHGs.

Steve V said...

"You're barking up the wrong tree."

Sorry the NDP tree, hard to tell these days, the attacks so similar ;)

I like cap and trade too, but following your logic, people will change anyways, which means the polluters don't have a market, which means we don't need it.