By Daniel Cusick

Americans are willing to pay for climate change solutions through carbon pricing and modest fees to clean up power plants, increase electric vehicle use and help fossil fuel-dependent communities retool their economies.

Those findings reflect a shift in U.S. public opinion over the last three years, according to a poll released this morning by the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Nearly 60 percent of Americans now say they believe that climate change is occurring at a faster pace, while half say they trust the findings of climate scientists more than they did five years ago.

A growing number of Americans also say an increase in extreme weather is evidence of climate change, while fewer rely on political or religious leaders to inform their views. But a wide gulf in climate beliefs persists across party lines, with only one-third of Republicans saying climate change is informed by good science compared to two-thirds of Democrats.

Even so, public opinion is shifting in favor of climate action, according to the poll. For example, 32 percent of respondents said they strongly or somewhat support paying $40 a month for increased energy costs associated with a carbon price. That’s equivalent to a $30-per-ton carbon price, or double the amount proposed in the Senate, the poll said. About 45 percent of respondents somewhat or strongly opposed paying $40 a month.

Half of respondents also said they would be willing to pay $1 per month to address climate change, while roughly 1 in 4 said they would not pay.

“The survey illustrates that Americans are willing to spend their own money to fight climate [change],” Michael Greenstone, an economist and EPIC’s director, said in a statement. “There is meaningful support for carbon pricing among Americans, yet to date we remain the only holdout among the G-7 countries. As Congress grapples with these issues once again, there is a golden opportunity for leaders to be responsive both to the needs of the planet and the views of the American people.”

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Areas of Focus: Public Opinion on Energy & Climate Change
Definition
Public Opinion on Energy & Climate Change
How important is fighting climate change to the American public? An annual poll released with The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research gives insight.