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Americans Actually Want to Pay More Money If It Will Help Stop Climate Change

Nearly two thirds of Americans are willing to pay more for their electricity if it means cutting carbon emissions

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smithsonian.com

Stopping global climate change is relatively simple on its face: stop pumping so much carbon dioxide into the air. Actually doing that, though, is super tricky and rather expensive—no matter which strategy is chosen—and politicians tend to believe that, if they ever want to get elected again, talk of raising taxes is taboo. According to a new survey by Bloomberg, however, most Americans say that they're willing to pay more for their energy—if it means cutting carbon emissions.

The poll didn't specify what would drive costs up—a carbon tax to help offset existing coal and gas plants? Funding to roll out clean energy capacity? A smart electrical grid? But, specifics aside, according to J. Ann Selzer, whose company ran the poll, to Bloomberg, “It is a rare poll where people responding will stand up and say ‘tax me'”.

The poll showed this willingness to pay split down ideological lines: 82 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of independent voters polled were willing to pay more for greener energy, while only about half of Republicans were. These results are mirrored in a separate poll by Washington Post-ABC News, which found that 51 percent of Republicans, 71 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of independent voters were willing to pay more for electricity if it means cutting carbon.

This isn't even the first time Americans have said they were willing to bear the cost of fighting climate change: research in 2012 found that, on average, Americans would accept a 13 percent rise in their electricity prices if it meant a transition to low-emissions energy.

The most recent poll came just on the heels of the Environmental Protection Agency laying out new rules for existing power generation plants. The rules, if finalized, would require these plants ot cut their carbon emissions by 30 percent below 2005 emissions levels by the year 2030. According to Barclays Plc, hitting those emissions-reductions targets could grow electricity rates by as much as 10 percent in the next 16 years, says Bloomberg. Sooner or later Americans may have a chance to show that when they say they'll pay more for clean energy, they actually mean it.

About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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