Just one third approve of carbon pricing in Ontario

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Just one third approve of carbon pricing in Ontario

Carbon tax slightly preferred to Cap and Trade

TORONTO January 30th, 2015 - In a random sampling of public opinion taken by The Forum Poll™ among 1028 Ontario voters, one half disapprove of Premier Wynne’s proposal to price carbon in Ontario (48%), while just one third approve (33%). One fifth have no opinion (20%). Approval is especially common to the youngest (43%), the wealthiest ($80K to $250K - 40%), in eastern Ontario (41%) and the city of Toronto (42%), among Liberals (50%), but not among PC supporters (8%) and among the best educated (post grad - 49%).

Split opinion on need for carbon pricing

Voters are presented with the proposition that there is a social and environmental cost to producing carbon and someone must pay the cost. Exactly equal proportions agree or disagree with this (41% each) while just fewer than one fifth don’t know (17%).

Carbon producers seen to be responsible for cost

Those who agree there is a cost to carbon also agree (two thirds) that carbon producers must pay this cost (66%), while few think the government or the consumer is responsible (5% each). One fifth think more than one of these is responsible for the costs of carbon production (21%).

Carbon tax slightly preferred to Cap and Trade

After having the two most common methods of carbon pricing explained, one third of voters opt for a direct carbon tax (33%), while a quarter prefer the less direct Cap and Trade method (25%). One quarter say neither is appropriate (26%) and one tenth think both can be combined (10%). Surprisingly few voters don’t have an opinion on this measure (6%).

Wide agreement carbon pricing leads to higher prices, not so much job losses

Two thirds of Ontario voters agree carbon pricing will lead to higher prices for everyday necessities (65%), while just one fifth do not agree (18%). A similar proportion do not offer an opinion (17%). On the other hand, just more than a third think carbon pricing will lead to job losses (38%) and a similar proportion think it will not (34%). More than a quarter have no opinion (28%).

 It is a truism that, no matter how you present putting a price on carbon, something which has never been priced before, it will be perceived as a tax. That is the case here; voters react in an instinctively negative manner when told they (or someone) may have to pay for something they got to do for free. When the environmental and social trade-offs are explained, however, there is more acceptance of the idea. It is interesting to note, among even those who don’t agree with the idea, a direct carbon tax is preferred to the less obvious method of capping and trading carbon," said Forum Research President, Dr. Lorne Bozinoff.

Lorne Bozinoff, Ph.D. is the president and founder of Forum Research. He can be reached at lbozinoff@forumresearch.com or at (416) 960-9603.