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Americans Would Pay — A Little — To Save The Planet, A Poll Shows

Data for Progress, a progressive think tank, commissioned neutral polling from YouGov that found Americans are willing to pay to stop carbon emissions, as long as it’s not too expensive.

Posted on September 13, 2019, at 10:28 a.m. ET

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Activists rally in support of proposed Green New Deal legislation.

This is an excerpt from The Stakes 2020, BuzzFeed News’ newsletter about what really matters in the 2020 campaign. You can sign up here.

We’ve reached the part of the presidential campaign where Democrats start to get nervous that some of the progressive policies they’ve promised will be unpopular — or unpopularly expensive. Abolishing private health care and decriminalizing border crossing top that list.

But what about the truly biggest policy item, remaking the American economy to stop carbon emissions? Data for Progress, a progressive think tank, commissioned neutral polling on that topic from YouGov, and came up with an answer that may not satisfy anyone: American consumers will pay to save the planet — as long as it’s not too expensive.

In the survey, shared exclusively with The Stakes 2020, YouGov asked people if they’d back new restrictions on fossil fuel infrastructure, like pipelines, and tightening rules around drilling. The answer to both questions: Yes, but only for the price of a Spotify subscription.

“These data suggest that, in fact, climate policies remain relatively popular even with an explicit cost frame,” said Data for Progress’s Sean McElwee.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.