According to a Galaxy Poll released by the Greens today, the Australian public wants a more ambitious ETS than the one proposed by the government. It asked
The government has proposed a minimum emissions reduction target of 5% by the year 2020. Scientists and environmentalists have suggested a more ambitious target if we are to properly address the issue of climate change. In your personal view, should the aim of the legislation be a minimum reduction of 5% as suggested by the government, or a reduction of at least 25% as argued by scientists and environmentalists?
35% of respondents wanted the 5% target, 54% wanted the 25% target, and 12% gave neither or don’t know responses.
This is a classic case of the party financing the poll getting the result it wants, constructing a question and possible answers around the known contours of public opinion to get a fundamentally misleading result.
On my reading of polling on this issue, we can say the following things about public opinion:
1. Overwhelming belief that climate change is happening.
2. Strong belief that something should be done about.
3. Low levels of knowledge about the ETS itself.
4. Personal willingness to make sacrifices to reduce carbon emissions has always been well below what the government says is required and is declining.
Galaxy and the Greens exploited public opinion features 1-3 in order to get around feature 4, which runs against their political agenda. They did this by leaving out any mention of costs or trade-offs in the question, and by not explictly offering in the possible answers weaker options than the government’s ETS or no ETS. Other polls find 25-30% opposition to the ETS, but in this case it looks like without those explicit options only 12% volunteered a negative response they were not asked for.
Of course all sides in this debate are trying every political tactic in the book. But this poll clearly does not represent real public opinion on climate change policy.