A growing majority of Canadians believe government and business need to do more to tackle the climate crisis, a new poll suggests. Many respondents agree that this year’s record wildfire season has underscored the need for urgent action.
However, these Canadians are torn about when action should be taken, according to the Ipsos poll conducted for PKBNEWS. A third of respondents agree that the cost of living crisis and other economic concerns should take priority.
“There are conflicting narratives here: yes, there is an increased urgency to address climate change, but there is also an increased urgency to address the affordability crisis we are witnessing in Canada,” said Sean Simpson, vice president of public affairs at Ipsos.
“The challenge, at least as perceived by Canadians, is that the government also doesn’t seem to have a plan to accomplish.”
Overall, the poll finds that six in ten Canadians agree that Canada should do more to fight climate change and that the federal government would let the country down if it didn’t act now. A similar number also said Canadian businesses should take urgent climate action or risk disappointing their employees and customers. More Canadians agree with those sentiments today than in the last similar survey conducted by Ipsos in February.
Yet only 26 per cent of those polled said they believe Ottawa has a clear plan in place for government, business and individuals to tackle the climate crisis together – a figure up three points since February.
The federal government’s latest target for greenhouse gas emissions is a 40% reduction from 2005 levels by 2030, with a goal of net zero emissions by 2050. Last month , a draft regulation has been released which the government says would achieve a net-zero electricity grid. by 2035.
The Alberta government has strongly opposed these targets, arguing they would require costly and onerous production cuts in the province’s oil and gas sector, and has called for longer timelines to achieve carbon neutrality. Saskatchewan has also voiced its objections to Ottawa’s plans.
Ottawa is set to unveil plans this fall to cap oil and gas emissions, which required intense negotiations with Alberta and its energy sector.
Notably, the Ipsos poll found that while a majority of Canadians in nearly every province agree that Canada should be doing more to tackle the climate crisis, only 26 percent of Albertans agree.
“Some (in the Prairie provinces) feel the federal government is asking particular sectors and provinces to bear a disproportionate burden,” said Lori Williams, a political science professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary, when asked what could explain this situation. for the disparity.
Albertans were also less likely to agree that this year’s wildfires are worse due to climate change, with 19 per cent nationally disagreeing that the two are linked. .
Kai Chan, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s Institute of Resources, Environment and Sustainable Development, said attitudes towards climate change are only getting stronger over time. , as people find “crowds” that support their beliefs.
“These dynamics can be very strong and they can really prevent even personal experience from connecting to facts, to arguments,” he said.
The poll was conducted among 1,000 Canadian adults in mid-July, when wildfires had already affected several provinces across the country, including Alberta, but before particularly devastating fires in British Columbia and the Territories. northwest in August.
While Simpson at Ipsos believes the number of people calling for urgent climate action could have been higher had they been polled later, Chan is not convinced.
“People have other explanations that are really hard to refute, you know, like invoking higher powers,” he said. “It is not easy to reach them, even if climate-related weather events interrupt their lives. »
Nationally, the poll also finds that six in ten Canadians believe that individuals must act now and do their part to fight climate change, or risk letting future generations down.
Just when it seems to be up for debate, especially against a backdrop of rising cost of living. While 35 percent of respondents believe now is not the right time to invest in climate change measures due to the current economic climate, 38 percent say the opposite.
The number of people choosing to wait for life to become more affordable has risen five points since February.
Williams said economic and environmental concerns have become intertwined due to policies such as the carbon tax, which have impacted gasoline prices in some provinces and could deter some Canadians from thinking they should. do more to fight climate change.
“People are ready to do their bit, they’re ready to contribute,” Williams said. “But while rising prices at the pump are really straining budgets beyond what is manageable, it doesn’t seem like a fair or manageable thing to raise federal government taxes.”
Environmental advocates say climate change is partly responsible for some of the factors fueling the cost of living crisis. This includes extreme weather events like fires and droughts that affect food production and supply chains.
“People have every right to worry about the cost of living crisis, but a big part of that crisis is our reliance on fossil fuels,” said Julie Nevin, a*sociate director for national climate at Environmental Defence.
“This means that (we should) move towards climate solutions, turning to wind and solar, which are the cheapest forms of energy production. It’s not only good for the climate, it’s also good for citizens’ energy bills.”
Of the potential measures Ipsos asked Canadians to consider to encourage them to do more to fight climate change, a financial incentive like tax cuts on environmentally friendly goods and services got the most. of support, with 36 percent agreeing.
About a third said they would also be compelled to act if they had easy access to information on the daily actions they can take and if they were aware of the impact of weather events caused by the climate in Canada. A quarter of them said they would be inspired by the ecological changes made by their friends, family and neighbours.
Nevin said the poll is proof that Canadians want governments and businesses to do more to reduce harmful emissions and switch to cleaner energy.
“Those with the most power, those who are most responsible, must be held accountable,” she said.