70% of Canadians want a rapid shift to a low carbon economy

December 20, 2016

December 19th, 2016 by . Originally published on The ECOreport.

Although Donald Trump’s election casts a long shadow on energy matters, a new poll finds that it is making little impact on public opinion north of the border. Only 17% of the respondents think Canada should follow Trump’s lead and stick with fossil fuels. “If anything, this survey suggests that the new US leader’s position actually makes Canadians more inclined to support clean energy here at home,” said Merran Smith, Executive Director, Clean Energy Canada. They perceive the future in terms of a low carbon economy and 70% of Canadians approve rapidly transitioning to a low carbon economy.

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PUBLIC OPINION ON CANADA'S CLEAN GROWTH AND CLIMATE CHANGE PLAN Prepared by Abacus Data for Clean Energy Canada

There was little support for the suggestion we “Take our time moving off fossil fuels” outside of the prairies. Alberta was the only province where this was the majority opinion, and then only by 52%. In Saskatchewan, where Premier Brad Wall advocates a very cautious approach to energy policies in lieu of Trump’s election, 62% of the respondents agreed that “We should get off fossil fuels as quickly as possible.”

This opinion was strongest among Canadian respondents under the age of thirty-five, 82% of whom favored the transition to a low carbon economy.
PUBLIC OPINION ON CANADA'S CLEAN GROWTH AND CLIMATE CHANGE PLAN Prepared by Abacus Data for Clean Energy Canada

Possible Initiatives In the 2017 Federal Budget

Some of the questions pertained to clean tech initiatives in the next federal budget.

  • 92% of the respondents either favor, or can accept, “Incentives to help people make their homes more energy efficient.”
  • 92% also support “Building power lines between provinces to make renewable electricity more available”
  • 85% support “Installing electric vehicle charging stations near highways, cities and towns,
  • 82% support “Offering incentives to people who buy electric vehicles.”

“Most Canadians believe that we can build a stronger economy by taking action to cut carbon pollution — and they see it as one of the prime minister’s jobs to deliver that clean growth by investing in clean energy, said Clare Demerse, Federal Policy Advisor, Clean Energy Canada.
PUBLIC OPINION ON CANADA'S CLEAN GROWTH AND CLIMATE CHANGE PLAN Prepared by Abacus Data for Clean Energy Canada

Support For The Trudeau Government’s Approach To Energy & Climate Change

78% of the respondents said they either support, or can accept the Trudeau government’s approach to energy and climate change.

This poll failed to identify concerns about the Canadian government’s recent approval of pipelines carrying tar sand bitumen, controversial LNG terminals, or the unpopular Site C Dam.

The strongest identified opposition to Trudeau’s policies was among those who voted for the Conservative party in the last election and 46% of those respondents can at least accept the idea of a quick transition to clean energy.

A Path Forward

Only 29% of Canadians fear that the Canadian Climate Plan will weaken the economy.

PUBLIC OPINION ON CANADA'S CLEAN GROWTH AND CLIMATE CHANGE PLAN Prepared by Abacus Data for Clean Energy Canada

“These numbers reveal that while no government could please everyone, especially where economic stakes differ and emotions run high, the Trudeau government has laid out a path towards a lower-carbon economy that has alienated few and found acceptance by a large majority,” said Bruce Anderson, Chairman, Abacus Data

At the request of Clean Energy Canada, Abacus Data surveyed 1,848 Canadians between December 12 to 14, 2016. The margin of error for this poll is +/- 2.3%, 19 times out of 20.

Photo Credits: Justin Trudeau being sworn into office by Day Donaldson via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License); Four graphs from PUBLIC OPINION ON CANADA’S CLEAN GROWTH AND CLIMATE CHANGE PLAN Prepared by Abacus Data for Clean Energy Canada