Most see B.C.-style carbon tax as part of the solution

VANCOUVER — As Canada’s environment minister heads to the United Nations climate change summit this week, a survey on Canadians’ views about climate change reveals an overwhelming majority (88 per cent) want Canada to commit to significant new actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In the survey released today by the Environics Institute for Survey Research in partnership with the David Suzuki Foundation, Canadians express most concern (78 per cent) about what climate change will mean for their children and future generations. Scarcity of water and more frequent droughts; increased extreme weather events like storms and flooding; and disappearance of wildlife are also of concern to a majority of Canadians.

“While climate change has not been a top-of-mind political issue that has attracted much attention in the media or during elections, this survey reminds us that a growing majority of Canadians have concluded that climate change is a serious problem that requires serious government attention,” said Keith Neuman, executive director of the Environics Institute.

The survey also shows majority public support for a tax on carbon-based fuels across the country. Close to six in 10 (58 per cent) British Columbians support their existing carbon tax, and 56 per cent of Canadians elsewhere say they would support a B.C.-style carbon tax in their own provinces.

“A carbon tax is one of the most powerful incentives governments can use to encourage companies and communities to pollute less,” said Ian Bruce, science and policy manager for the David Suzuki Foundation. “It’s encouraging to see that Canadian support mirrors momentum around the world for pricing carbon pollution, with 73 countries, 22 states, provinces and cities and over 1,000 businesses recently signalling their commitment.”

Bruce added, “Canadians are now seeing the value of a carbon tax at home where B.C.’s experience shows it’s possible to shrink carbon pollution while economically outperforming most of the country.”

Experts and leading organizations globally — from the World Bank and World Economic Forum to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development — agree that a price on carbon pollution though a carbon tax or regulatory cap-and-trade system is the most effective foundation for any climate change plan.

Earlier this year, the world’s leading climate scientists, through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, reported with more certainty than ever that climate change is happening and is caused mainly by human activity. According to the Environics Institute/David Suzuki Foundation survey, a growing number of Canadians agree with scientists, with 63 per cent saying they believe the science is conclusive.

Notwithstanding Canadians’ recognition that climate change is happening and more needs to be done, the survey also reveals that Canadians are unaware of criticism against Canada internationally as a climate laggard. Reports published by Climate Action Network Europe and Germanwatch and the Washington-based Center for Global Development have ranked Canada’s climate performance at the very bottom relative to other industrialized countries, yet the survey shows most Canadians believe the country is responding better, or at least the same, as other nations.

The survey examined public opinion on climate change as part of the 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 2,020 Canadians between October 16 and 19, 2014. 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.

Download full survey results.

Media Contacts:

Ian Bruce, Science and Policy Manager
David Suzuki Foundation

Keith Neuman, Ph.D., Executive Director
Environics Institute for Survey Research
416-969-2457 or 416-272-6628