Climate change attitudes and the lure of oil revenue

A survey by the University of Maryland found that interest in climate change efforts is strong, with a majority in almost all of the 15 countries covered supporting greater action by governments. A look at the figures however shows that the US had one of the lowest levels of support.

Meanwhile the New York Times reports that in California support for the state’s own laws aimed at reducing emissions is weaker than it once was:

Two-thirds of Californians now support the 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act, the landmark 2006 legislation requiring the state to slash its greenhouse gas emissions — down from 78 percent two years ago.

Still, 61 percent of Californians say the effects of global warming are already occurring, only a slight decline from last year’s 64 percent, and above the 53 percent in the rest of the country, as measured in a March Gallup poll.

The story quotes Stephen H. Schneider, a Stanford professor of environmental biology and global change, as suggesting both the economy and the lack of recent natural disasters being behind the change of heart.

With the state’s budget in such a bad way that some taxpayers and suppliers are being paid in IOUs, it’s not hard to see how economics could be particularly resonant in California.  The row over whether to open up more of the state’s offshore oil reserves to drilling has brought up the classic environment-versus-economy argument. Supporters argued it would bring the state $1.8bn over 14 years (Plains Exploration and Production, which was seeking the lease, said it would be even more than that), but California’s Assembly late last week rejected the proposal – and Plains blamed an environmental coalition for the rejection.

Related links:

California kills offshore oil lease project (Reuters)
Californians’ global warming fervor cools (NY Times)

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