Giving Compass' Take:

• A recent analysis helps identify consumers' preferences in funding climate action which can help inform policy on how to address climate change and promote action. 

• How are you getting involved in climate action? Have you considered the policy components of climate action? 

• Read more about climate action in this content collection. 

For decades, scientists have urged policymakers to take prompt action to address climate change, but their calls have largely gone unanswered.

One reason governments have been slow to react is because of the cost-participation dilemma. In order to be effective, a climate policy must raise the price of carbon and include most countries in the world, says Michael Bechtel, associate professor of political science at Washington University in St. Louis.

But that’s a challenge because participation is voluntary, and raising energy costs—no matter how necessary—is never popular.

For the new study in Nature Climate Change, researchers asked more than 10,000 people in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and France to consider four different methods of funding climate policies:

  • Should the prices start low and gradually increase over time?
  • Should prices start high and decrease over time as progress is made?
  • Should prices start low, increase over time, and then come back down?
  • Or, would consumers prefer a constant-cost plan?

Policymakers and pundits have generally assumed that ramping up climate action and costs over time would be the most attractive approach as it would allow consumers to prepare and adjust their energy usage.

Instead, they found the majority in all four countries preferred a simpler, constant-cost plan—even if average household costs are high.

Policymakers take note: The constant-cost plan also significantly reduced opposition to climate action, as compared with the ramp-up plan.

Understanding the public’s preference for funding climate action is important because these costs would likely be passed on to the consumer, Bechtel says.

Read the full article about paying for climate action by Sara Savat at Futurity.