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Most Would Pay Higher Bills To Help Climate: poll

Jeremy Lovell

LONDON - Millions of people around the world are willing to make personal sacrifices, including paying higher bills, to help redress climate change, a global survey said on Monday.1105 02

The survey found 83 percent of those questioned believed lifestyle changes would be necessary to cut emissions of climate warming carbon gases.

The survey, conducted by two polling organizations for the BBC World Service, covered 22,000 people in 21 countries.

In 14 of the 21 countries from Canada to Australia, 61 percent overall said it would be necessary to increase energy costs to encourage conservation and reduce carbon emissions.

"People around the world recognize that climate change requires that people change their behavior," said Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes which conducted the poll with GlobeScan.

"And that to provide incentives for those changes there will need to be an increase in the cost of energy that contributes to climate change," he added.

Scientists say carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels for power and transport will push global average temperatures up by between 1.8 and 4.0 degrees Celsius (3.2 and 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) this century, causing floods, famines and violent storms putting millions at risk.


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The response to climate taxes was more muted than that on raised energy prices, but it swung in favor if the revenue from those taxes was ring-fenced for use solely on measures to raise energy efficiency or develop clean energy sources.

There was also a greater acceptance of higher green taxes if they were offset by cuts in taxation elsewhere so the net effect on the individual's pocket was neutral.

"While few citizens welcome higher taxes, the poll suggests that national leaders could succeed in introducing a carbon tax on energy," said GlobeScan President Doug Miller.

"The key requirement is that their citizens trust that the resulting tax revenues will be invested in addressing climate change by increasing energy efficiency and developing cleaner fuels," he added.

The survey said the findings applied equally in China, which is building a coal-fired power station a week to feed its booming economy, and in the United States, which is the world's biggest carbon polluter -- although China is fast catching up.

They will be ammunition for U.N. environment ministers when they meet on the Indonesian island of Bali in December amid urgent calls to agree to start talks on a follow-up to the Kyoto Protocol on cutting carbon emissions which expires in 2012.

© 2007 Reuters

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