New survey shows Canadians’ climate ambition holds steady during the pandemic, but urgency to act trending up

Posted on Monday, April 12, 2021

Protestor holding sign reading 'Support your local planet' with drawing of globe on it

The University of Ottawa's Positive Energy program released its latest round of survey results tracking Canadians’ attitudes toward climate change action during the pandemic. The survey was conducted by Positive Energy’s official pollster, Nanos Research.

Canadians were asked on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 means absolutely the worst time and 10 absolutely the best time, how good a time it is for Canada to be ambitious in addressing climate change. This tracking question was first asked in June 2020 and again in November 2020. The results suggest Canadians’ appetite for climate action is holding steady: 49% of respondents answered 7 or higher (a 3% decrease from November, within the margin of error); 27% of respondents answered 3 or lower (2% increase). Roughly one-third of Canadians answered either zero or 10.

Asked why now is a good or bad time, the number of respondents saying climate change cannot wait has almost doubled since June 2020 (now 39%). “Half of Canadians continue to say now is the best time for climate action, but many people feel greater urgency to act now than they did in the early months of the pandemic. Decision-makers should keep an eye on this trendline,” said Nik Nanos, CEO of Nanos Research and Chair of Positive Energy’s Advisory Council.

The survey reveals how attitudes vary by region, age, gender, voting preference, and political ideology. People in the Prairies and men were less likely to say this is a good time for climate ambition. Québécois, Atlantic Canadians, women, and Canadians over 55 were likelier to say it is a good time.

The survey also asked Canadians how much they trust a variety of different sources for information on climate change on a 0 to 10 scale. “Canadians’ trust in peer-reviewed science and researchers holds across ideological, partisan and regional lines. This is good news. It suggests Canadians look to research and science to inform their views. However, one in three Canadians remain polarized over climate action during the pandemic. Governments will need to work hard to build confidence in climate policies,” said Professor Monica Gattinger, Chair of Positive Energy and Director, Institute for Science, Society and Policy, University of Ottawa.

The survey was an RDD dual frame (land- and cell-lines) hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,016 Canadians, 18 years of age or older, between February 28 and March 4, 2021 as part of a Nanos omnibus survey. The margin of error is 3.1 percentage points plus or minus, 19 times out of 20.

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