Poll shows governments lag behind citizens in readiness to tackle global warming

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A sweeping global survey conducted for BBC World Service has found people are far more willing to make financial and lifestyle sacrifices to arrest climate change than most leaders acknowledge.

But whatever else politicians think of the findings, they will certainly pounce on respondents’ willingness to pay higher taxes. Canadians are among world leaders in willingness to accept potential lifestyle changes and higher taxes to address climate change, according to a new poll.

The global survey of more than 22,000 people in 21 countries, including 1,000 Canadians, suggests that citizens in general – including those in China and the U.S., respectively the world’s biggest polluters – are more prepared than their governments to support tough measures.

The poll showed 50% of respondents in favor of hiking energy taxes to discourage use, versus 44% opposed. Support swung sharply in favor, even in the most skeptical countries, when respondents were assured the money would be used to find alternative clean energy sources, or for personal tax cuts.

Just 46% of Americans said they were prepared to support higher energy taxes, for example, but when asked if they’d accept a higher tax if they knew the money would go to renewable energy investments, the figure jumped to 74%.

It’s a rare politician who’s ever seen a tax increase he or she didn’t like. For months, trial balloons have been testing opinions on “higher taxes to save the environment.” When the next round of tax hikes comes, lets hope they spend as effectively to get us out of the mess we’re in as they did shoving us into it.

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