Canadians more willing than Americans to pay more for renewable energy

A recent poll shows that Canadians are more willing than Americans to pay more for renewable energy – they’re also more likely to accept evidence of climate change.

A survey by the Public Policy Forum and Sustainable Prosperity found that 73% of Canadians would be willing to pay up to $50 more every year for renewable energy. Their American counterparts were less willing to do the same – only 55% agreed to a $50 hike in yearly energy costs.

“The results are encouraging and in line with much of the research that we have recently published,” said Sustainable Prosperity’s Alex Wood in a statement. “The numbers are clear, Canadians want smart climate change policy, and the evidence here is that they believe carbon pricing to be a central element of smart climate change policy.”

This translated into support for cap and trade and carbon tax policies by the majority of Canadians surveyed. Not surprisingly, 40% of Canadians agreed that federal and provincial governments should take action against climate change.

It’s notable that Canadians’ support for smart climate change policies – even at the cost of an extra $50 per month – stands in contrast to Americans’ opinions. Why the difference? There are likely many factors involved in shaping public opinion on climate change policy, but a fundamental factor is how strongly people believe in the phenomenon of climate change.

According to the poll, Canadians are more likely than Americans to believe in climate change: 80% of Canadians believe there is strong evidence to support climate change, compared with only 55% of Americans. One reason for this gap could be the degree to which Climategate affected Americans’ views on climate change compared to Canadians, which is alluded to in the survey’s comments section.

Despite the 2009 email scandal involving prominent climate change scientists, Canadians showed strong support for the idea that climate change is happening – 90% believe it’s a serious problem.

The survey attracted a lot of media attention for highlighting the difference between Canadian and American views on climate change, but perhaps the greatest take-away message was that Canadians want to see their government enact environment-friendly energy policies.