Selling a carbon tax to an unconvinced public

Today Julia Gillard took important further steps on the way to a carbon price.

The IPA also put out another Galaxy Poll on climate science. It’s almost exactly the same as their poll from last year, suggesting that the substantial inroads the sceptics had made have stabilised.

However a comparison with an Essential Research poll from last December suggests that attitudes are still fluid. An option in Galaxy reading ‘There is conflicting evidence and I’m not sure what the truth is’ takes numbers from both both camps.

So it looks like about a third of the population are manmade climate change true believers, with another 10% leaning that way. We’ve debated this recently, but I think things are looking bad for Julia Gillard on this one.

13 thoughts on “Selling a carbon tax to an unconvinced public

  1. Asking the public their opinions on scientific questions is ludicrous. Why not ask them about the finer points of string theory will we are at it?


  2. Obviously we can’t decide the truth of factual propositions via a poll. All of us have to take many things on authority or demonstrated results. These polls (and similar results overseas) are an interesting insight into the limits of both authority and propaganda.


  3. ..and that’s why we have political parties and not scientific parties. You can’t sell a solution if people don’t agree on the problem.


  4. After Climate Gate, you just can’t trust the scientists on anything. They’re well known for totally exgaggeratting the truths and then saying, ‘well we had to make it dramatic, to get you guys to act’. Now they’ve been railing on about this global warming business for years now. And what’s happened, nothing? Coldest Melbourne winter for years. That Tim Flannery chap went on about dams being empty by 2008…..gees, what’s happened there ? At the same time, my utility bills have kept going up and up…I’m ok, but man I feel sorry for the battlers on that score.
    Look, I know I’ve banged on about climate change tosh in the past, so not gonna start it up again here. But when no one else is doing climate change stuff, Glen Beck’s forecasting a mid-east caliphate, the global economy is finely balanced, and there are so many more pressing issues at home….I think this policy will look like pure self indolgence.
    It may please the academics, the elites, the artists et al, but the battlers won’t like it. At least the upshot is that the common man is now waking up. They’re are ridding us of Labour pollies like never before. WA is gone, VIC is gone, NSW will be a blood bath, Bligh is still in the hunt cause she did well on the floods, and the Feds are in by their finger nails. It’s fantastic and so it should happen. labour don’t stand for anything. They have no values. They don’t even govern for the common man like they did of yesteryear…they only govern for power’s sake…and it’s showing….like with the climate crap.


  5. Putting aside people’s views on climate change, Julia is in deep trouble on this one because of her lie in the last election campaign that ‘there will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.’


  6. I don’t think this survey tells much other than how successful the Merchants of Doubt are.

    When I read a survey like this I always wish that the question was followed up with the supplementary question “Why?”. I’d bet that at least 95% of respondents would be able to give a coherent, rational reason as to why they believe in their position.


  7. There’s something a bit odd about the large jump in those poll results, happening as they are over a short space of time, with little in the intervening period happening to cause such movement. (Possibly, I suppose, the cold winter in America and England might have something to do with it; but on the other hand, large floods and the cyclone Yasi here may well helped with belief in AGW/climate change.)

    I note the Galaxy poll definitely uses a more emotive term of man’s “blame” (and, incidentally, how come Gallaxy hasn’t got into gender inclusive terms?)

    In any event, it doesn’t tell us how many in the “I don’t know” category would, on further questioning, say that they would still approve of a carbon tax on the basis of giving scientists the benefit of the doubt.


  8. “oldest Melbourne winter [sic; summer] for years.”
    Baz, seeing you worked in the Treasury, I presume you know the difference between a cycle and a trend; if not, it’s just as well you no longer work in Treasury. Of course since it’s global warming not Melbourne warming it’s a moot point anyway.

    Andrew, on authority and propaganda, for years we’ve had propagandists telling us that the MMR vaccine causes autism. They’ve convinced a lot of people, despite having zero science on their side. Yet governments have ignored the propagandists and listened to the scientists in making public health policy, to everyone’s benefit. Climate policy should be conducted the same way.


  9. Steve – I think the polls are consistent. Galaxy’s explicit equivocal option captured the unsurprising public uncertainty over claims that they can’t verify, Essential not giving that option captured which way people are leaning if pressed.

    Of course the big question is reaction to the tax, but past polling (in my environment category) shows that very few people are prepared to pay the sums envisaged. Even polls taken when support for the science was stronger, and before energy prices started skyrocketing for other reasons, showed that.

    I’m not saying it is completely impossible for the government to get away with this. The compensation package may neutralise some opposition. But this has a WorkChoices feel to it.


  10. Yes, voters seemed to have been convinced by the union line that Workchoices was an ideological rather than a practically beneficial policy. Introducing a carbon tax when other major emitters have not done so may also be seen as ideological, especially given the Greens’ heavy involvement in the presentation thus far.


  11. There is larger minority who believe in manmade climate change than who supported WorkChoices, but I think the parallel is that a major reform is starting without a majority being convinced there is a problem to fix.

    However many more people will be negatively affected by a carbon tax than by WorkChoices, so that will make the politics more difficult.


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