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Behaviour Change

Tracker data: Some public willingness to pay extra climate tax

26 April 2023

Climate Barometer Tracker findings from April 2023 shows that there is some public willingness to pay an extra tax for climate action. While a large proportion of the public are unwilling to pay an extra tax, overall, equal or greater numbers are willing to pay some amount of extra tax.

This holds true across the lowest and the highest income brackets, with members of higher income brackets slightly more willing to pay larger amounts. For instance, around 25-30% of those earning £70,000 or more per year say they’re willing to pay more than £300-1500 per year for effective climate action, and 9% of those earning £100,000 or more per year are willing to pay more than £1500 per year in extra tax for climate action.

The latest from the Behaviour Change timeline:

Opinion Insight 5th January 2024

Research paper: Reducing inequality makes behaviour change for net zero more achievable

In an open access research paper in the journal Nature Climate Change, Charlotte Kukowski and Emma Garnett argue that reducing inequality is not simply a positive ‘co-benefit’ of well-designed climate policies (although in a cost of living crisis, the affordability of green policies is a major consideration for voter support).

Instead the authors argue that many of the behavioural changes necessary to reduce emissions from travel or food consumption are simply not possible where income inequalities remain high. The paper uses an example of rural/urban travel costs and rent prices to illustrate how it may be easier for wealthier citizens to make low carbon travel choices:

While London boasts the cheapest bus fares and the most comprehensive public transport network in the UK, it also ranks highest for house prices and rents. Although rent and property prices can be lower in rural areas than in cities, the deregulation and subsequent privatization of the UK bus network in the 1980s have led to fare increases, a marked decrease in ridership, service fragmentation, increased car ownership and dependence, and transport-associated social exclusion, which disproportionately affect poorer citizens in rural communities

The analysis and recommendations for addressing ‘carbon inequality’ offer a different way of thinking about the challenge of population-scale behaviour changes: many policies are not currently viewed as fair by the public in large part because they aren’t currently equally accessible to people across the income spectrum.

The paper concludes that addressing general inequality, in turn makes behaviour change for net zero more feasible.

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