Drivers Willing To Pay More For Carbon Emissions Reductions

Policymakers often argue that the cost of reducing carbon emissions and averting global warming is great to be worth the effort. They say such measures would hurt the economy and cause problems for the average energy user. According to a new online survey by the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute, most drivers don't seem to mind.

The study found that drivers were willing to pay $100 for a 20 percent reduction in carbon emissions, or $250 for an 80 percent reduction, and that they would accept a reduction in fuel economy and space if carbon capture technology was integrated into automobiles.

"While most efforts at containing carbon dioxide emissions are directed at large-scale stationary producers….there has also been interest in considering the feasibility of carbon capture from….the gasoline-fueled internal-combustion engines ubiquitous in transportation," John Sullivan, an assistant research scientist in UMTRI's Human Factors Group, said in a news release. "Various methods are under development to capture and store these gases before they enter the atmosphere."

Carbon capture on cars would require that the CO2 emissions be stored in a separate compartment, which would take up room and add weight to the vehicle, thereby reducing overall fuel economy somewhat. But the survey found that drivers are willing to tolerate this if it meant improving air quality and the environment.

That the public is much more willing to accept the costs of going green and avoiding climate change is good news, but the key is to convey this fact to the people who guide environmental policy in government. Hopefully, more studies like the one from the University of Michigan will accomplish that.

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