VANCOUVER, September 18, 2015 — Support for an international agreement to cut fossil fuel emissions is growing in Canada, according to a poll released as Canadians prepare to vote on October 19 for the government that will represent them at the United Nations’ climate change conference in Paris in December.
The survey, released today by the Environics Institute for Survey Research in partnership with the David Suzuki Foundation, shows that strong support for Canada’s involvement in an international agreement outweighs strong opposition by a more than three-to-one margin. A growing majority of 61 per cent of Canadians say the government should cooperate with other nations to reduce carbon emissions and limit climate change, even if it results in some job losses and higher prices for some goods and services. Only 12 per cent of Canadians say they would be upset if the country were to sign on to such an agreement.
Public support for domestic policies to tackle carbon emissions is also on the rise. Approval of B.C.’s carbon tax, a shift to tax pollution and relieve tax on income, among residents of that province is at its highest level since the policy was introduced in 2008, with six in 10 saying they strongly (25 per cent) or somewhat (36 per cent) support it. Outside of B.C., 58 per cent of Canadians are in favour of a B.C.-style carbon tax in their own province. Support for this policy is weakest in Alberta, but even in that province supporters and opponents are equal in number (48 per cent favour versus 47 per cent oppose).
“These results show that even though climate change has been a secondary issue in this year’s election campaign, there is growing public sentiment that concrete action to limit emissions from fossil fuels needs to happen,” said Environics Institute executive director Keith Neuman. “Four in 10 Canadians feel strongly enough about Canada participating in an international agreement that they would be upset if it doesn’t happen.”
Canadians are also expressing growing confidence in the renewable energy sector, with three-quarters (74 per cent) saying they believe their province could shift most of its energy needs to clean, renewable sources such as wind, solar and biofuels. This is the majority sentiment across the country, most noticeably in British Columbia (82 per cent) and Quebec (81 per cent), with the most growth since 2013 in the western provinces.
“Canadians are clearly optimistic about the country’s clean-energy future and the leadership role Canada can play internationally,” said David Suzuki Foundation science and policy manager Ian Bruce. “But along with that optimism comes higher expectations for government action to limit carbon pollution. It will be interesting to see how these expectations play into the election.”
As recorded on previous surveys, opinions about climate change differ across the political spectrum. Supporters of the main federal opposition parties demonstrate the strongest views about the seriousness of climate change and the need for actions such as signing an international climate agreement (favoured by 75 per cent of NDP, 72 per cent of Liberal Party and 70 per cent of Green Party supporters), compared with only 42 percent of Conservative Party supporters. This difference is much less than in the United States, where the polarization between Democrats and Republicans is much more severe.
The survey examined public opinion on climate change as part of the Environics Institute’s ongoing Focus Canada public opinion research program, updating its annual surveys on climate change dating back to 2007. This year’s survey is based on telephone interviews conducted with 2,004 Canadians between August 4 and 16, 2015. A sample of this size drawn from the population produces results accurate to within plus or minus 2.2 percentage points in 19 out of 20 samples.
To view the full report and survey data see: Focus Canada 2015 — Canadian public opinion about climate change.
For more information:
Environics Institute for Survey Research, Keith Neuman: 416-969-2457 or 416-272-6628
David Suzuki Foundation, Steve Kux: 604-374-4102