Poll shows high degree of public resistance to many possible climate …

The extent of the political task facing the Government as it embarks upon a programme of climate action is laid bare by the findings of today’s Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.

The findings show that the Government has a huge task ahead of it to obtain public backing for a variety of measures which may form part of its plans to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases over the coming years.

The Dáil has passed legislation requiring the Government to reduce carbon emissions by 7 per cent a year, leading to a reduction of 51 per cent by 2030. However, it is nevertheless working on the details of how this will be achieved, with a climate action plan and a carbon budget due to be announced at the end of this month. Government Ministers say that the changes to be introduced in the coming years will amount to huge changes in daily and economic life.

The poll shows a high degree of public resistance to many possible climate action measures. Some of the measures have already been signalled by the Government, while others have been suggested or are employed in other places.

The task for the Government will be to win over the public’s scepticism and convince voters that the changes are worthwhile to reduce emissions and avoid the worst predictions of global warming. If it fails to do that it will find itself imposing unwelcome charges on a restive electorate – and that would be a recipe for political disaster.

While other surveys – including a Eurobarometer survey this summer which found that Irish people believe climate change is now the most serious threat facing the world – tend to show a high degree of public concern on the issue, today’s poll indicates that this does not translate into enthusiasm for individual actions.

This is especially the case with measures which would require increased costs for individuals. Asked if they would personally sustain various measures, resistance was highest on those measures which would directly affect people.

Taxes on fuel

The strongest opposition recorded by the poll is expressed by respondents over higher taxes on fuel and energy (82 per cent opposed) and more expensive petrol/diesel cars (72 per cent).

Voters were also not prepared to run the risk of electricity blackouts – 81 per cent of respondents expressed opposition.

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