More people back Labor's earlier move towards a carbon trading scheme than oppose it and most Australians believe it should make a deeper cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 than planned, new polling has found.
Commissioned by environment group the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the poll found that 41.4 per cent of people supported shifting to an emissions trading scheme and 33.4 per cent were against. A quarter were undecided.
The poll was conducted last Thursday by ReachTEL, which surveyed 3190 Australian residents just days after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd confirmed he wants to end the three-year fixed carbon price period and bring forward a fully fledged emissions trading scheme a year earlier than planned.
Climate Change Minister Mark Butler said on Sunday the government would release draft legislation in the coming days or weeks to enact the earlier shift to trading.
The Coalition has vowed to scrap any carbon price and replace it with its direct-action policy, under which taxpayers would pay companies and farmers to reduce emissions.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott last week called an emissions trading scheme a ''so-called market in the non-delivery of an invisible substance to no one'' and said Labor's promise to dump the fixed carbon price, widely called a carbon tax, was a ''con job''.
Support for moving to emissions trading divided sharply along party lines. More than two-thirds of Labor and Greens supporters backed the proposal, but just 17.5 per cent of Coalition supporters were in favour. Among undecided voters, 28.8 per cent backed the move and 34.8 per cent were opposed.
WWF spokeswoman Kelly Caught said the polling showed the majority of Australians supported the basic principle of an emissions trading scheme.
The poll also surveyed people on what emissions reduction target Australia should adopt for the end of the decade.
Australia currently has an unconditional 5 per cent cut based on 2000 levels on the table.
Both parties say they would increase the target up to 15 or 25 per cent depending on the strength of international climate change action. The independent Climate Change Authority is reviewing what targets Australia should adopt and will present its initial findings in October.
Of those polled, the highest proportion - 24.1 per cent - said Australia should set a target of a 15 per cent cut by 2020. Another 18.9 per cent wanted a 25 per cent reduction target, while 13.5 per cent wanted a greater cut. But 21.7 per cent thought the target should remain a 5 per cent cut, and 9.8 per cent said they wanted no change.
Mr Butler said he was inclined to let the authority finish its work before he would comment.