Public Says Go Green With or Without a Climate Agreement

Debate has been vigorous at the Copenhagen climate summit, which continues all this week. We shall see if this debate leads to a meaningful global agreement on combating climate change. But it’s worth stressing that the American public wishes to see steps against climate change by our country regardless of Copenhagen’s result.

In a multicountry survey conducted by WorldPublicOpinion.org for the World Bank, U.S. respondents said, by 73-24, that our country has a responsibility to take action against climate change even if the other countries at the conference can’t come to an agreement.

Moreover, most Americans (62 percent) say they would be willing to pay some costs as part of taking action against climate change—either $39 a month (48 percent) or $19.50 a month (14 percent).

The public also favors a series of specific steps to help deal with climate change, even though they all involve costs of one kind or another: preserving or expanding forested areas, even if this means less land for agriculture or construction (75 percent favor); limiting the rate of constructing coal-fired power plants, even if this increases the cost of energy (64 percent favor); gradually increasing the requirements for fuel efficiency in automobiles, even if this raises the cost of cars and bus fares (71 percent favor); and gradually reducing government subsidies that favor private transportation, even if this raises its cost (62 percent favor).

No matter how Copenhagen turns out, the public is clearly ready to continue down the green path. That’s comforting to know.

Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. To learn more about his public opinion analysis go to the Media and Culture page and the Progressive Studies program page of our website.