Although 81 percent of Vermonters believe the Earth’s climate is changing, only 63 percent agree with the current broad scientific consensus that humans caused that change, according to the poll. Still, 78 percent of Vermonters would like to see the state obtain 90 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2050, and 75 percent support the state’s efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, the results suggest.
Vermonters by a 2-to-1 margin said they’re more likely to vote for candidates in whose campaigns these issues play a central role.
These and other figures were released Thursday morning by Tom Hughes of Energy Independent Vermont, a coalition that includes the Conservation Law Foundation, the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, the Vermont Natural Resources Council, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility and others.
About two-thirds of the state’s residents support putting a new tax on oil, gas and other fossil fuels as long as it is paired with tax cuts in other areas and rebates for low-income Vermonters, Hughes said. Often known as a carbon tax, this idea found support from a minority of gubernatorial candidates.
Democrats Sue Minter and Peter Galbraith said they would back such a tax in Vermont, but only if other states in the region followed suit. Minter and fellow Democrat Matt Dunne said they’d prefer to see what Minter called a “cap and invest” strategy and what Dunne called a “cap and trade” approach.
All three Democrats said Vermonters must invest in energy efficiency and conservation measures, which Galbraith said would achieve 10 times the carbon reduction per dollar than an equivalent investment in any new source of energy generation.
Neither Lisman nor Scott returned multiple calls for comment Thursday about the environmental issues addressed in the poll.
Scott’s communications director, Ethan Latour, said his candidate “believes in science, he believes climate change is real, and he believes human activity is a contributing factor.”
Latour said he couldn’t expand on how Scott believes humans contribute to the phenomenon without more information from the candidate, who he said wasn’t available.
Scott has said in the past that he doesn’t support a tax on carbon pollution, Latour said, because it would make Vermont less affordable.
Environmental advocates have offered two pieces of legislation in the last year to tax carbon pollution, which they say would replace existing taxes and distribute revenue to lower-income Vermonters to avoid adding to their tax burden.
The poll results came from 600 Vermonters who said they’re likely to vote, and it was conducted between June 26 and 29 by Fairbanks, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates.