To curb climate change, most people are willing to pay up

June 11, 2014, 11:33 PM UTC
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LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 31: A Hotshot fire crew takes break on a scorched ridge shortly before sunset the Powerhouse fire on May 31, 2013 south of Lake Hughes, California. Firefighters have been battling hot dry conditions. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
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Most Americans are willing to pay more to help curb pollution amid increasing fears of climate change, according to a new poll.

The findings are just one of many from two surveys exploring public attitudes about pollution and efforts to reduce it. The results show that many people are grumbling for change and that some businesses are taking steps to curb pollution independent of government mandates.

In the Bloomberg U.S. National Poll’s latest findings published on Wednesday, climate change proved a divisive issue. In perhaps one of the most surprising responses was the willingness of many Americans to make a financial sacrifice to help reverse climate change. Sixty two percent of those surveyed said would pay more for energy if it would reduce air pollution from carbon emissions.

But there was a large gap based on political ideology. More than eight out of ten Democrats said they’d pay more, while only 46% of Republicans said they would do so, according to a Bloomberg report about the results.

Climate change elicited strong reactions in a number of other areas including the seriousness of the problem. For example, of those polled, 46% consider climate change a “major threat” while 24% said it was “no real threat.”

A day earlier, CDP, a non-profit group focused on business and the environment, released another study analyzing the response of U.S. companies to global warming. The state-by-state analysis found that companies around the country are “factoring global warming into their business planning” in order to become more competitive nationally and globally. Some of the companies highlighted in the report included Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Best Buy (BBY).

“Managing global warming impacts delivers competitive advantage to US companies,” said Tom Carnac, the president of CDP in North America, in a statement. “We are moving from a world that’s projecting future climate risks to one that’s experiencing those risks now.”

For Hewlett-Packard, a reduction in their environmental footprint comes in the form of a “self-contained, modular, ultra-efficient data center,” according to their statement in the report. The technology, the company says, “uses a fraction of the energy of traditional brick-and-mortar data centers,” while allowing more storage space.

Best Buy, meanwhile, is using an “absolute carbon reduction goal” as its benchmark for success in the face of climate change. “The primary drivers on establishing this goal,” a statement in the study reads, is to cut “increasing energy costs” and that “developing business opportunities in a low carbon economy will generate value for the enterprise.”

CDP also found that of the 11 energy companies from Texas highlighted in the study “almost all reported that they have incorporated natural gas, wind or solar power into their energy mix.” But carbon-based energy is still, by far, the main source of power for most companies, including many that have green energy programs.

While businesses are showing that they’re well aware of the risks associated with climate change across the U.S. and making efforts to combat these risks, the government isn’t — or shouldn’t be — off the hook.

According to the Bloomberg study, for instance, 17% said “it is already too late” for the action, while half said “this should be done within 10 years at the least.”

“Regulation can help level the playing field, allowing more companies to benefit from mitigating the risks, while speeding up the shift to a profitable low carbon economy,” said Carnac.