U.S. public is willing to pay for climate solutions at home if countries abroad step up


A woman at a protest march holds a sign reading "The World is dying and so are we"
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As COP27, the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, opens most analysts agree that conversations over who will pay for the climate crisis will dominate the conference.


This question is not a relic of our modern plight or even the 21st century. For decades, policymakers have attempted to negotiate multilateral climate agreements.


Despite agreements made at the Paris Climate Conference seven years ago, who will finance our climate mitigation, adaptation, and planetary restoration measures continues to be a continuous point of debate.


Domestically, with climate change on the ballot in many states, voters will decide on measures using taxes to pay for climate initiatives. California’s Proposition 30, for example, would increase taxes by 1.75% for people who make more than $2 million.


The state estimates that the resulting money would equate to $5 billion per year intended to ​​fund electric and hydrogen vehicle charging stations and wildfire suppression and prevention programs.


This isn’t the first tax policy introduced to spur progress on climate solutions. For example, in their early days, tax credits helped keep the solar and wind energy industry afloat until the technologies matured and could better compete.


In a new study, published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers attempt to mediate the debate over who will pay for climate action. They find that the domestic public is more willing to bear the costs of climate action if other countries also contribute.


The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Cologne, Yale University, and Stanford University, consisted of representative surveys. With the surveys, the researchers investigated the extent to which the public supports costly climate policies, such as a domestic carbon tax.


In a preluding 2019 study, the team surveyed 10,000 citizens in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, asking how much they approved or disapproved of a carbon tax.


Essentially, a carbon tax is a price that emitters must pay for each ton of greenhouse gas emissions they emit, borne by both companies and consumers. Ideally, due to the tax, both would take steps such as switching fuels or adopting new technologies, to reduce their emissions to avoid paying the tax.


In the study, 60% of respondents supported a tax if other countries also introduced one. If other countries didn’t also introduce it, this number dropped by 7%.


According to lead scientist Michael Bechtel of the University of Cologne, when domestic climate measures are embedded internationally, people are more likely to believe that these reforms will have a positive impact on important social, economic, and environmental sustainability goals. This is likely because instead of a solely domestic issue, climate change is a problem that affects the entire world.


In the present study, the research team expanded upon their 2019 experiment, investigating whether or not the costs of climate action would be more broadly accepted domestically if other countries pursued more ambitious, and thus more costly measures.


When the researchers asked how much respondents would be willing to support these costly policy scenarios, they varied the level of contributions made by other countries, finding that even when people generally disliked the costs, “they are more willing to accept cost increases if other countries also make higher contributions,” Bechtel said.


The study concludes that climate change measures internationally play a crucial role when it comes to supporting domestic policy.


“Investing in well-functioning international agreements is worthwhile not only from a natural science perspective but also for policymakers interested in securing broader public support for costly climate action domestically,” Bechtel said.


There are multiple climate measures on the midterm ballots which will be accepted or rejected today, and some will be costly. Whether or not they get the support they need could be connected with international action.

Amid debates on who will pay for climate change, study finds the public is more willing to bear the costs of action if other countries contribute


As COP27, the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, nears most analysts agree that conversations over who will pay for the climate crisis will dominate the conference.


This question is not a relic of our modern plight or even the 21st century. For decades, policymakers have attempted to negotiate multilateral climate agreements. Despite agreements made at the Paris Climate Conference seven years ago, who will finance our climate mitigation, adaptation, and planetary restoration measures continues to be a continuous point of debate.


Domestically, with climate change on the ballot in many states, voters will decide on measures using taxes to pay for climate initiatives. California’s Proposition 30, for example, would increase taxes by 1.75% for people who make more than $2 million. The state estimates that the resulting money would equate to $5 billion per year intended to ​​fund electric and hydrogen vehicle charging stations and wildfire suppression and prevention programs.


This isn’t the first tax policy introduced to spur progress on climate solutions. For example, in their early days, tax credits helped keep the solar and wind energy industry afloat until the technologies matured and could better compete.


In a new study, published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers attempt to mediate the debate over who will pay for climate action. They find that the domestic public is more willing to bear the costs of climate action if other countries also contribute.


The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Cologne, Yale University, and Stanford University, consisted of representative surveys. With the surveys, the researchers investigated the extent to which the public supports costly climate policies, such as a domestic carbon tax.


In a preluding 2019 study, the team surveyed 10,000 citizens in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, asking how much they approved or disapproved of a carbon tax.


Essentially, a carbon tax is a price that emitters must pay for each ton of greenhouse gas emissions they emit, borne by both companies and consumers. Ideally, due to the tax, both would take steps such as switching fuels or adopting new technologies, to reduce their emissions to avoid paying the tax.


In the study, 60% of respondents supported a tax if other countries also introduced one. If other countries didn’t also introduce it, this number dropped by 7%.


According to lead scientist Michael Bechtel of the University of Cologne, when domestic climate measures are embedded internationally, people are more likely to believe that these reforms will have a positive impact on important social, economic, and environmental sustainability goals. This is likely because instead of a solely domestic issue, climate change is a problem that affects the entire world.


In the present study, the research team expanded upon their 2019 experiment, investigating whether or not the costs of climate action would be more broadly accepted domestically if other countries pursued more ambitious, and thus more costly measures.


When the researchers asked how much respondents would be willing to support these costly policy scenarios, they varied the level of contributions made by other countries, finding that even when people generally disliked the costs, “they are more willing to accept cost increases if other countries also make higher contributions,” Bechtel said.


The study concludes that climate change measures internationally play a crucial role when it comes to supporting domestic policy.


“Investing in well-functioning international agreements is worthwhile not only from a natural science perspective but also for policymakers interested in securing broader public support for costly climate action domestically,” Bechtel said.


There are multiple climate measures on the midterm ballots this year, and some will be costly. Whether or not they get the support they need could be connected with international action.


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