Survey: Americans support carbon tax, spending on renewables

Over 70 percent of the U.S. public supports a tax on carbon emissions so long as the revenue is spent on clean energy

A new study has found that over 70 percent of the U.S. public supports a tax on carbon emissions so long as the revenue is spent on clean energy, infrastructure, and compensation for coal workers.

The study was published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

Policymakers have been kicking around the idea of a carbon tax for some time now, and some states have already attempted to regulate and tax carbon emissions. In fact, California has imposed new agricultural regulations to reduce methane emissions from cows.

“What we aimed to find out, however, was whether there was support among the American public for a carbon tax to address climate change. Specifically, we also wanted to discover how much they were willing to pay, and how they would prefer the revenue from the tax to be used,” said Professor Matthew J Kotchen, the study’s lead researcher.

Researchers surveyed just over 1,000 adult Americans to see what kind of support there might be for the implementation of a carbon tax and where the respondents would like that money to be spent.

Participants were given ten different expenditure options for revenue from a carbon tax and were asked to rate their support or opposition for each.

The results of the study showed that over 70 percent of people were in support of a carbon tax, and nearly 80% of participants were in favor of revenue going into clean energy projects and infrastructure.

“With the average American household willing to pay a mean amount of around $177 a year in carbon tax on their energy bills, this equates to around $22 billion that could be spent on investments in clean energy and infrastructure, among other sectors as well,” said Kotchen.

Survey takers were also largely in favor of a portion of any carbon tax revenues being used to compensate coal workers.

The results of the survey could help mold future policies down the line, in order to reduce emissions and hinder the effects of climate change. If the funds are spent wisely, the public might be ready.

By Kay Vandette, Earth.com Staff Writer