As reported in most detail at Pollytics blog, Nielsen asked a series of climate change questions in its survey over the weekend.
As in a June Nielsen poll and September Newspoll, about two-thirds of November Nielsen respondents supported the general idea of an ETS. However, when asked about the ‘specific Emissions Trading Scheme agreed between the Government and the Opposition Leadership’ a ‘don’t know enough’ option scored a massive 72%.
Only 51% of respondents think that the ETS will have a positive effect on the environment, suggesting that at least 15% support the ETS despite it having no positive effects on the environment (a not ridiculous position, if their logic is that while the Australian ETS will have negligible positive effects it will contribute to a global effort that may be effective). 45% think that the ETS will have a negative effect on the economy, while 22% think that it will have a positive effect.
On tactics, 44% of those favouring an ETS and 61% of those opposing it think Australia should wait until after the Copenhagen conference before settling on an ETS.
Unfortunately there are no new questions on the public’s willingness to pay for an ETS. The Minchinites in the Liberal Party are right about one thing, which is that the Opposition doing a deal with the government has meant that the costs of the scheme for many Australians have received very little attention. Australians without kids or with high incomes are, on the government’s figures, going to carry much of the ETS burden (other Australians will see a shift in relative prices, but will be compensated).
The ETS burden carriers are looking at $60+ a month in additional costs. On my rough calculations based on a 2008 Lowy Survey, only about 10% of the relevant income groups say they are prepared to pay that much. They are likely to be pretty unhappy when they realise what the government, with opposition approval, has planned for them.