Canadians would pay more than Americans for renewable energy

A survey of 2,500 people in Canada and the United States shows that Canadians are more willing to pay a premium for green power than are Americans.

Canadians are more willing to pay a premium for the generation of renewable energy than Americans, with 63% willing to pay up to $250 more each year versus 46% in the US.

The survey of 1,500 Canadians and 1,000 Americans found that 42% of Americans would pay no premium for green power from wind and solar, compared with 18% of Canadian respondents.

When probed on their willingness to pay, 23% of Canadians would pay $50 more a year and 24% would pay $100, compared with 19% and 16% for Americans, while 16% would pay $250 more, 8% would pay $500 and 4% would pay more than $500 extra a year (11% - 4% - 1% of Americans).

The ‘2013 Canada-US Comparative Climate Opinion Survey' was produced by Canada 2020, Université de Montréal and three US policy research groups, and demonstrates that 81% of Canadians believe there is solid evidence of global warming, while only 61% of Americans think there is solid evidence.

There is "less concern within these populations than one might expect given the more alarming claims of leading climate scientists," and the report highlights "wide and enduring differences" between the two countries in terms of support for climate policy and willingness to pay for low-carbon solutions.

"Canadians are more likely than Americans to support key policy tools such as carbon taxes, cap and trade systems and renewable energy standards" and Canadians appear to be "more convinced, more concerned and more willing to do something about climate change than their neighbors in the US."

Large majorities (82% in Canada and 79% in the US) support renewable portfolio standards when no cost is assigned but, when a $100 per year cost increase is attached to the policy, support decreases by 34 points to below majority level in the US, while the decline is only 10 points in Canada.

Opinions in Canada have changed little since the last survey was done in 2011, although support for renewables has declined in the US since the last survey there in 2010.

Despite their perceptions of rising global temperatures, a substantial number in both countries continue to question the extent of humans, but strong majorities want their federal governments to sign an international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Canadians are twice as likely as Americans to support a carbon tax (although they remain evenly split on this approach to pricing carbon) and Canadians are equally divided on cap-and-trade, though they are more likely to support this policy than Americans.

"These latest data provide substantiation for the support of renewables in Canada," says Bill Eggertson of the Canadian Association for Renewable Energies (we c.a.r.e.). "It is particularly encouraging in light of the growing alarmism shown in Ontario and elsewhere, where wind and solar are being blamed for rising electricity rates."

"It is a pity that no surveys ask about willingness to pay for green heat solutions from geothermal and solar thermal, because thermal energy has a much greater potential for consumers than electricity," adds Eggertson.

Details on the Canada2020 survey are available at

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