SACRAMENTO (CN) — A decade after enacting an ambitious greenhouse gas reduction plan, Californians support even stronger climate change laws and are willing to pay more for clean energy, according to a poll released Wednesday.
A Public Policy Institute of California survey reports that 62 percent of likely voters still support the California Global Warming Solutions Act. Signed in 2006 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the landmark climate change bill requires California to slash greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020.
With the state in line to meet the lofty climate change goal, Gov. Jerry Brown recently proposed doubling the emission reduction standards required by Assembly Bill 32, by 2030.
According to the poll, 59 percent of likely voters support enhancing AB 32 and 56 percent of adults say they are willing to pay more for energy from renewable sources to curb global warming.
“We find strong support today for the state’s greenhouse gas emissions targets set 10 years ago,” Public Policy Institute president Mark Baldassare said in a statement. “The commitment to help reduce global warming includes a surprising willingness on the part of majorities of Californians to pay higher prices.”
The poll found that environmental policy largely remains a partisan issue, with 78 percent of Democrats supporting Brown’s expanded proposal, but just 39 percent of Republicans. Overall, 75 percent of likely voters called climate change a serious threat.
While the oil industry and other opponents of California’s climate programs say that slashing petroleum use would bring higher gas prices and massive job losses in the energy sector, Californians are unpersuaded. Only 20 percent surveyed said they believe enhanced climate laws would result in fewer jobs.
California’s controversial cap-and-trade program, which forces businesses to obtain permits and pay for excessive carbon emissions, was supported by 54 percent of adults. However, 55 percent admitted they have not heard anything about the cap-and-trade program.
With the program bringing in less revenue than expected, and due to expire in 2020, state Democrats have been calling for its renewal.
State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles, said the poll shows Californians expect the Legislature to continue passing stringent climate change laws.
“California has the will and strength to act, and our people fundamentally understand our climate agenda needs to strengthened – not weakened – in order to create a sustainable future with cleaner air for our children and grow a renewable energy sector that is now a pillar of our economy,” De Leon said in a statement.
As for the presidential race, 80 percent said the candidates’ views on environmental policy were important. Likely voters favored Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, 46 to 30 percent. A majority of likely voters said they approve of President Barack Obama’s job performance and 53 percent approve of Brown’s performance in his fourth term.
The results are based on a telephone survey of 1,700 California adults from July 10 to 19. The poll has a 3.5 percent sampling error, which means that if it were repeated, the results would be expected to be within 3.5 percentage points of the first results.
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