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UVM study finds people impacted by extreme weather may be more willing to invest in climate policy

 A haze from wildfire smoke settles in the sky above trees and a street in Fairfax.
Joe Tymecki
Vermont Public
Wildfire smoke settles over Fairfax on June 25, 2023, when ongoing fires in Canada sent a haze over parts of the United States.

People who personally experienced an extreme weather event in the last five years may be more willing to pay more for climate mitigation action, according to a new paper out of the University of Vermont.

The trend held particularly true for people who lived through a wildfire or hurricane. It was less clear for flooding and droughts.

Rachelle Gould is a lead author on the study. She said the phenomenon included people who said they didn't believe in human-caused climate change.

"Despite people's beliefs about climate change being human-caused, despite people's political affiliation — those are both things that we know have a really strong impact on how people think about climate change — but despite both those things, we find that when people have experienced extreme weather events, they're more likely to support climate mitigation policy, even if it costs a little bit more money," Gould said.

More from Vermont Public: The connection between extreme rain and climate change in Vermont

The study focused on people from three regions, including the West and Northeast — both of which have had recent extreme weather events related to climate change.

The study asked respondents how much extra they would be willing to pay on their utility bills for 100% renewable power by 2050.

Gould said the results suggest that as more people experience extreme weather due to climate change, support for renewable energy policies could grow.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message.


Abagael is Vermont Public's climate and environment reporter, focusing on the energy transition and how the climate crisis is impacting Vermonters — and Vermont’s landscape.

Abagael joined Vermont Public in 2020. Previously, she was the assistant editor at Vermont Sports and Vermont Ski + Ride magazines. She covered dairy and agriculture for The Addison Independent and got her start covering land use, water and the Los Angeles Aqueduct for The Sheet: News, Views & Culture of the Eastern Sierra in Mammoth Lakes, Ca.

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