A new poll released today (PDF) demonstrates that over 60 percent of Americans recognize that the earth is getting warmer mostly because of human activity such as burning fossil fuels. The poll, conducted by The McClatchy Company, the third-largest newspaper company in the United States, and Ipsos Public Affairs, found that a slight majority of the U.S. population also supports cap-and-trade legislation.
A substantial majority of American adults would be willing to pay a surprising additional $25 per month on their electrical bill to support limiting the amount of greenhouse gases companies can put out – as long as the programs created a significant number of green jobs in the United States.
The budget Obama submitted to Congress earlier this year included revenue from a national cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions, which would come from auctioning off emissions permits to industries. The climate program is expected to generate $645 billion between 2012 and 2019. Initial funds would be invested in clean energy. According to the Center for American Progress, a think-tank that has done considerable research on the economic effects of such legislation, this would create 16.7 jobs for every $1 million invested. A $100 billion green investment program would create 2 million new jobs nationwide over two years, most of which would be non-exportable, clean, well-paying jobs.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said climate change legislation would cost the average household $175 a year by 2020, far below what Americans are apparently ready to pay.
This news can only strengthen the renewed leadership position on climate change President Obama is expected to take when he attends the United Nations Climate Change conference, COP15, next week.
The poll comes on the heels of an announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency that scientific evidence overwhelmingly shows greenhouse gases are increasing at unprecedented rates, threatening human health and adversely affecting our environment. The EPA ruling allows the agency to regulate emissions from power plants, factories, cars and trucks and other sources, even if Congress fails to enact legislation. The United States is the highest per capita contributor of fossil fuel emissions in the world, and the second largest overall emitter after China.
“It is a step towards innovation, investment and implementation of technologies that reduce harmful emissions. And it’s a step towards green jobs, reduced dependence on foreign oil, and a better future,” said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.
Next month, large polluting facilities will begin working with EPA to monitor their emissions, and will be required beginning next year to integrate the best available methods for GHG control and reduction into construction or expansion plans. Starting in 2011, large emitters will be required to report on performance.
Jackson added: “Having economy-wide legislation sends an unequivocal signal to the private sector that we really mean it, that we’re moving towards green energy.”
“It means that we arrive at the climate talks in Copenhagen with a clear demonstration of our commitment to facing this global challenge. We hope that today’s announcement serves as another incentive for far-reaching accords in our meetings this week,” said Jackson. “In taking action now and recognizing this threat, we join the hundreds of other countries, thousands of leading scientists, tens of thousands of innovators, entrepreneurs and private companies, millions of Americans and billions of global citizens who have seen the overwhelming evidence and called for action on climate change.”