Global Warming: The Buck Stops Here


Click here to read the full report

Click here to read the technical report

The following survey examines public attitudes toward specific policies at particular costs. First, the surveys describe in the survey a variety of policies to respondents and told them how much each policy would increase consumer costs. Respondents were then asked whether they would favor or oppose each policy at that price and to rank order the policies. Different respondents were told different prices, while the amount of greenhouse gas reduction (5%by 2020) sought by the policy was held constant across all policies and respondents. The expectation is that respondents would be less likely to support each policy as the price increased based on economic theory.Each of the respondents looked at three different fuel policies to reduce greenhouse gasses and three different electricity policies. The policies were: standards, emissions taxes, and cap-and-trade. They were all given different price levels and were asked whether or not they would favor each policy with a random price level for each.Results

  • For the vehicle fuel policy, all of the policies were unfavorable at every price level, however there was a huge difference between the specific policies. People were most supportive of vehicle standards and the least supportive of a cap-and-trade policy, although the cap-and-trade support was very close to that of the emissions tax. Support for each of the policies dropped a lot after the first raise in price, but the effect seemed to be much smaller with the second price increase, probably due to the fact that a rise in prices from 7 to 15 is much greater than from 4 to 7.


  • For the electricity bill policy, people were much more supportive. In fact for the power company standards policy, a majority of respondents were supportive for all of the price levels. In the power company emissions tax condition, a majority supported it in the two lower price level but not for the highest price level. Lastly, for the cap-and-trade policy a majority of respondents supported it in the lowest price conditions and 48% supported it in the middle price level, but a majority did not support it in the highest price level. The emissions tax and cap-and-trade conditions were once again much closer to each other with the standards policy being the most supported. For electricity, The change between the first and the second price conditions was not that large, but the third price condition caused a huge drop off probably because there was a bigger difference between 155 and 95 than 87 and 95.



The survey results show that not only does price matter, but so does the type of policy and the energy source that is being curtailed. Respondents were uniformly more supportive of each of the policies at all price levels for the electricity policies rather than the fuel policies. Respondents were much more supportive of standards rather than emissions taxes and cap and trade with cap-and-trade being the least favored. Lastly, opinions were not as sensitive to small changes in prices as they were in large changes in price as would be expected. As prices increased, support decreased and depended on the size of the change.