As Australia plans carbon tax, views remain polarized around the potential economic harm of measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions

We regularly track the global public’s view of whether attempts to cut emissions of climate changing gases risk significantly damaging the economy. In most countries surveyed, opinion is polarized on this issue —suggesting that finding politically viable ways to reduce emissions will remain a daunting challenge.
In Australia, plans to impose a tax on carbon emissions for the worst polluters have met with plenty of opposition; currently only the EU and New Zealand have managed to introduce a national tax on carbon. In Europe, slight majorities tend to disagree that action on climate change will damage economies; majorities also held this view in Australia, Canada, China, and Japan when polling was carried out last year.
However, people in several countries, including the USA, the UK, Brazil, Japan, and Canada, were becoming less likely to think that greenhouse gas emission cuts would damage the economy, suggesting the developed-world public may be becoming more receptive to mitigating initiatives as the immediate economic crisis has receded. American views have shifted dramatically over the course of the recession, with a spike in 2009 in the proportion worried about the effect on the economy.
A number of emerging economies, including India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Kenya, have seen the reverse trend with a recent sharp increase in concern about the potential economic harm of measures to address climate change. This suggests that the issue will remain politically potent as the rapid growth in many of these economies continues.
Finding from the GlobeScan Radar, Wave 2, 2010
This post was written by former GlobeScan Research Director, Sam Mountford.