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Half of Americans wouldn't spend one shiny nickel to reverse climate change: Survey

One out of five Americans said they would be willing to spend at least $100 on the effort.
climate change
Climate change is a problem, yes, but we're not paying for it says half of Americans surveyed. Photo: Google Commons

Climate change is a problem, but not one we’d pay to fix, said half of Americans surveyed.

About 18 percent (one in five) of Americans would be willing to spend at least $100 monthly to reverse damage caused by climate change, according to a new survey from the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Half of the participants said they wouldn’t drop a nickel on it.

Of the half that would pay, economist and University of Chicago professor Michael Greenstone calculated that the average that contribution would be $30 per month. Greenstone said that would cover damage caused by the electricity sector.


“If half the [respondents] would pay nothing, we’re a long way away from getting any carbon tax or policy that costs taxpayers money to deal with climate change,” Sam Ori, the executive director of U-Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute, told Moneyish in an interview. “What I think this polling shows is that the politics of a carbon tax or policies that would cost money to deal with climate change — we’re not necessarily there yet… You can’t get things done with half of the voters in this country.”

Climate change is a “problem that the government needs to address” according to 61 percent of Americans surveyed. The percentage is made of 43 percent Republicans and 80 percent Democrats.

“Public opinion around many energy issues tends to be fluid, with people often defaulting to partisan starting points. But this survey shows an opportunity for consensus building through discussion and debate,” said Trevor Tompson, director of The AP-NORC Center. “Majorities of both Democrats and Republicans agree that climate change is happening, and there are signs that consensus could happen on other issues, too.”

Will the government handle it? Earlier this summer, President Donald Trump announced the United States is leaving the Paris Climate Accords, signed by 195 countries last year, as soon as 2020.

The Trump administration has since said it might rethink the withdrawal if the agreement suited U.S. interests “under the right conditions.”

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