Most Americans are willing to pay a little more each month to fight global warming but only a tiny bit, according to a new poll.
Still, environmental policy experts hail that as a hopeful sign.
Seventy-one per cent want the federal government to do something about global warming, including 6 per cent who think the government should act even though they are not sure that climate change is happening, according to a poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago.
And those polled said they’d be willing to foot a little of that cost in higher electric bills.
If the cost of fighting climate change is only an additional USD 1 a month, 57 per cent of Americans said they would support that. But as that fee goes up, support for it plummets. At USD 10 a month, 39 per cent were in favor and 61 percent opposed.
Greg Davis, a 27-year-old post-graduate student in Columbus, Ohio, agreed: “It’s far more important to protect the environment than to save money. I think that’s true for businesses as well as individuals.”
That a majority is willing to pay more is a new phenomenon, said Tom Dietz, professor of sociology and environmental science and policy at Michigan State University.
Dana Fisher, director of the Program for Society and the Environment at the University of Maryland, said it’s noteworthy that a majority was “willing to pay at all,” and added that the levels of support for USD 10 a month and USD 20 a month are significant.
But so was the opposition to higher costs.
James Osadzinski, 52 of Rockford, Illinois, said simply: “I have a set budget. I don’t have the money,” while for 26-year-old nurse Marina Shertzer of Pensacola, Florida, it doesn’t make sense because she doesn’t see climate change as a threat, but something cyclical and normal.
Of those polled, 77 percent said climate change is happening, 13 percent weren’t sure, and only 10 percent said it wasn’t happening.
There remains a partisan divide in how Americans view climate change. While 84 per cent of Democrats and 55 per cent of independents view global warming as a fact and a problem that the government needs to address, only 43 percent for Republicans agree. And 18 per cent of Republicans said they think climate change is happening but don’t think the government should address the issue.
Last December, 190 nations in the world signed an agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Two-thirds of those polled were at least moderately confident that the United States could meet its obligations. But about the same number of Americans weren’t that sure that China the No 1 polluter and India could meet their goals.