Field Poll for the California Green Innovation Index

January 1, 2007

According to the results of a special statewide Field Poll commissioned by Next 10, an independent, nonpartisan, non-profit organization, Californians attach a high degree of importance to the issue of global warming and air pollution and believe actions should be taken now to address the problem. More than four in five see global warming as either a very or somewhat serious threat to the state's overall quality of life. Majorities also say it's a very serious threat to the health of residents living or working in areas with poor air quality, to the relationship between the Sierra snow pack and the state's water supply, to Central Valley farmers, and to California's coastal communities.

Below are some of the specific findings:

  • Three in ten Californians (29%) volunteer global warming as the world's top environmental problem. Another 28% cite air pollution. No other problem is cited by more than 6%.
  • About half of the state's residents (51%) say they’ve heard a great deal about global warming. Registered voters and those with a post-graduate degree are most likely to be closely attuned to the problem.
  • Seven in ten Californians (70%) believe the issue of global warming is extremely or very important to them personally, significantly higher than the 52% of Americans who reported this in a national poll earlier this year.
  • More Californians than U.S. residents also support taking immediate action on global warming. Statewide, 43% say the problem requires immediate action and another 32% believes some action should be taken. The proportions of U.S. residents who take these positions are 34% and 30%, respectively. In addition, the more a person knows about global warming, the more likely they are to believe immediate action is required.
  • More than four in five (82%) say global warming poses a serious threat to California’s overall quality of life. More specifically, about two in three believe global warming poses a very serious threat to the health of residents who live or work in areas where air quality is poor (66%) and nearly as many (63%) say it seriously threatens the snowpack in the Sierras and California’s water supply. Majorities also say global warming poses a very serious threat to farmers in the Central Valley and to California's coastal communities.
  • Despite these apprehensions, greater than eight in ten (85%) agree that the state can reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming and, at the same time, expand jobs and economic prosperity, and 90% agree that California can be a leader in new technologies to improve efficiency and reduce global warming.
  • Californians believe many entities have the potential to reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Major corporations, gas and electric utility companies, the general public and the U.S. government are seen as having the potential to do the most.
  • There is strong support for the idea of the state government offering incentives like tax credits to businesses and individuals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Greater than eight in ten (81%) favor government tax credits to businesses and 79% support them for individuals.
  • The idea of using regulations to require businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is initially backed by 81%, although support drops to 61% if such regulations lead to price increases on some goods and services.
  • Two in three residents (65%) favor the idea of establishing a “cap and trade” system for businesses, which would set an overall limit on the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that companies can release, and create a trading system to allow companies that can't fully reduce their emissions to pay other companies to cut back more than the required amount.
  • Somewhat smaller majorities favor establishing a government-imposed "carbon tax" on businesses and individuals. The idea of establishing such a tax on businesses is initially embraced by 72%, but this declines to 53% if this increases the prices Californians pay for some goods and services. The idea of imposing a carbon tax on individuals is narrowly favored 52% to 43%. However, support grows to 65% if the money from the tax was spent solely on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The findings in this report are based on a telephone survey of 1,003 California adults conducted August 10-28, 2007 in English and Spanish. The survey was commissioned by Next 10. The survey questionnaire was developed in partnership with Collaborative Economics, a strategic consulting group based in Mountain View, with advice from Next 10's advisory committee.

See press release and the California Opinion Index report for a more detailed accounting of the Next 10/Field Global Warming Survey of Californians.