Capitol Alert

Most Californians back global warming policies

California Gov. Jerry Brown, right, speaks to reporters with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, left, and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard at the Climate Summit of the Americas in Toronto earlier this month.
California Gov. Jerry Brown, right, speaks to reporters with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, left, and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard at the Climate Summit of the Americas in Toronto earlier this month. AP

Strong majorities of Californians believe that a warming climate has already begun affecting their state and favor policies to tackle the problem, according to a new Public Policy Institute of California poll.

Reflecting a broad scientific consensus about the reality of climate change, 62 percent of adults believe the effects of “global warming” have begun against just 10 percent who doubt those repercussions will ever materialize.

More than three-quarters said a changing climate poses a serious or very serious threat to California’s economy and quality of life, including 64 percent who linked it to a debilitating drought and 84 percent who worried about intensifying future droughts.

Around two-thirds of poll respondents supported state policies to “address the issue of global warming,” consistent with a 2013 Field Poll in which two-thirds of voters endorsed a government response. Those results could buoy Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative Democrats’ push for an aggressive package of policies to limit the effects of greenhouse gases. Some specifics:

▪ A large majority of likely voters (69 percent) backed a proposal to sharply cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

▪ Most likely voters endorsed generating half the state’s electricity from renewable sources (74 percent), making buildings more energy efficient (68 percent) and slashing by half petroleum use in cars and trucks (63 percent).

▪ Policies to boost electric vehicle use with financial incentives such as offering tax credits for purchasing the vehicles (67 percent) and building more charging infrastructure (81 percent) met with broad support.

▪ Even larger numbers backed expanding solar power by building more solar power stations (88 percent) and offering financial incentive encouraging people to install solar panels (78 percent)

▪ Skeptics warning that sweeping climate change policies will slow the economy are in the minority. A plurality (38 percent) of respondents said policies targeting global warming would create more jobs; while a quarter (24 percent) said the policies would mean fewer jobs or would not affect employment (26 percent)

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert

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