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Poll: Extreme weather spurs demand for climate action

Greenland melting, Amazon burning latest signs

From hurricanes to melting ice in Greenland, the large majority of Canadians believe that these situations are linked to human- and industrial-caused climate change, and it’s causing them to expect more policy action from governments.

  • Across the country, more than 3 in 4 Canadians believe climate change is probably, almost certainly, or certainly caused by human and industrial activity. Only 8% nationally, and 15% in Alberta, believe this is unlikely, probably not happening, or certainly not happening.
  • More than 75% of those surveyed say they think a series of events, from floods and fires in Canada to record heats in Alaska and melting ice in Greenland, are likely to be certainly caused by human- and industrial-influenced climate change. Atop the list of things that people are most convinced are linked are melting ice in Greenland, record heat in Alaska, and record heat waves in Europe.
  • Roughly 3 in 4 or more voters say each of the situations tested have a big to huge impact in their desire to see action taken to combat climate change. Melting in Greenland and fires in the Amazon are at the top of the list of drivers of demand for action, but all of the items tested had a strong impact on public expectations for action.


“Climate change is no longer just an inconvenient truth—it’s an inconvenient experience for millions of Canadians. From the record-setting fires out west to the floods and heatwaves out east, we are experiencing the consequences of climate change firsthand. As demonstrated by these poll results, a strong majority of Canadians are connecting the dots between climate change and the catastrophic weather events they’re seeing on the news or increasingly experiencing in their own backyard.”
—Dan Woynillowicz, Policy Director, Clean Energy Canada
“Hurricane Dorian, the 4th Category 5 hurricane in the last two years, was not really on the horizon when this survey was completed. But Canadians were already broadly convinced that storms, floods, worrying warming in the north, fatal heat waves in Europe, and devastating fires in the Amazon are all part of a broad phenomenon that society should be doing more to arrest. There may be an active political debate about carbon pricing, but there is a sweeping consensus that climate action should be a priority, as signs of Earth’s duress dominate the news.”
—Bruce Anderson, Chairman, Abacus Data
The survey was conducted online with 1,500 Canadian residents aged 18 and over, from August 23 to 28, 2019.
A random sample of panelists were invited to complete the survey from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. These partners are typically double opt-in survey panels, blended to manage out potential skews in the data from a single source.
The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.6%, 19 times out of 20. The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

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