The latest polls of US public opinion bring both good news and bad for the success of the COP21 climate talks now underway in Paris.
On the positive side, a new New York Times/CBS News poll
finds that two-thirds of Americans think their country should join an
international treaty requiring it to reduce emissions in an effort to
fight global warming. That includes a slim majority of Republicans. When
pollsters pointed out that such a treaty is likely to involve tradeoffs
between stimulating the economy and protecting the environment,
respondents favored protecting the environment by 54 to 34 percent.
numbers suggest the kind of strong public backing that US negotiators
would need to achieve a treaty with real teeth in it. To most
economists, whether conservative, progressive, or libertarian,
“real teeth” can only mean carbon taxes or some other mechanism to
subject frontline decision makers in households, businesses, and
governments to the grinding, day-to-day pressure of market prices. Are
you going to drive your Prius instead of your SUV to the store today?
Are you going to serve a smaller steak for dinner? Are you going to
diversify your giant energy company away from fossil fuels before it
goes the way of Kodak? Probably not, if failing to act costs you
before you get the your hopes up, let’s take a closer look at those
opinion polls. US public support for strong action on climate change may
be broad, but there are indications that it is also shallow and
fragile. >>>Read more