| BERKELEY, Calif., July 23
BERKELEY, Calif., July 23 An overwhelming
majority of California residents support the state's mandate for
reducing heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions, so long as they
do not bear the higher costs of cleaner energy themselves, a new
public opinion poll shows.
Eighty percent of adults surveyed believe climate change
poses a serious threat to California's economy and lifestyle,
and 68 percent back a 2006 law for lowering statewide greenhouse
gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
But support for specific initiatives to reach the goal
appeared to wane sharply in the face of higher energy costs, the
Public Policy Institute of California found in a poll released
late on Wednesday.
For example, 76 percent of adults agreed with California's
requirement that at least a third of all electricity it
generates should come from renewable sources, such as solar and
wind power, by 2020.
The same level of support was found for requiring oil
refineries to produce gasoline and other fuels that yield lower
carbon dioxide emissions.
But support for renewable energy quotas dropped to 46
percent when respondents were asked to factor in higher
electricity rates for consumers. Likewise, approval of lower
carbon fuel standards fell to 39 percent if they brought higher
pump prices for motorists.
Enthusiasm for clean-energy initiatives in the face of
rising consumer costs fell even further among those with lower
Fewer than a third of individuals earning less than $40,000
a year said they would favor tougher carbon fuel standards if
they pushed gasoline prices higher, compared with 54 percent
approval among those with annual earnings of at least $80,000.
"The belief in climate change and support for state and
federal action in climate change remains very strong in
California today," said Mark Baldassare, president of the Public
Policy Institute. "But as discussions about cost get introduced,
the group that expressed the most concern is lower-income
Californians, which is where the support drops off."
The survey also found that overall approval of immediate
action by the state government to curb greenhouse gases
continued to climb, growing to 61 percent this year from 59
percent last year, a rise of 15 percentage points since 2012.
The poll surveyed 1,705 adult California residents by
telephone from July 8 to July 15 in English and Spanish, with a
margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.
(Editing by Steve Gorman and Clarence Fernandez)