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Poll: Most Canadians want Canada to be ‘world leading’ or ‘among the most ambitious’ when it comes to shifting to clean energy and clean technology

This survey is part of a four-part series. View the other three posts here, here and here.

In the latest round of survey work by Clean Energy Canada and Abacus Data, two out of three people in Canada would like to see Canada as either “world leading” (27%) or “among the most ambitious” countries in the world (39%) when it comes to a shift towards clean energy and clean technology.

Today when asked to rate the current level of movement in this direction, Canadians placed our level of ambition just behind that of Germany and ahead of the UK, France, China, the US and Italy.  Only 11% felt we were taking things more slowly than other countries and 45% say we are more ambitious than other countries or even world leading (10%).

When it comes to our ideal positioning, strong majorities in every region but Alberta and among all political affiliations except Conservatives prefer to see Canada ahead of the curve of other countries.  Those under 45 are particularly enthusiastic in their desire to see Canada be world leading.  However, almost half of Conservatives and Albertans would like to see the country be ahead of the average and very few in both those groups would prefer Canada to lag behind the shift to clean energy and clean technology.

We asked Canadians to take into account both the fact that global economic growth increases demand for energy alongside the fact that many countries have announced plans to be carbon neutral, and queried respondents on what they felt the net effect would be in terms of the demand for Canadian oil and gas in the future. 

About half (49%) forecast a decline in demand, while 34% say there will be no effect and 17% predict that the net impact with be an increase. Pluralities in all regions except Saskatchewan, all generations, and all political groups believe that demand for Canadian fossil fuels will decline.

The vast majority believe that Canada cannot afford to ignore these trends or take a laissez faire approach to dealing with them: 89% believe the country “needs a strategy to help sectors across our economy adapt in ways that will make them highly competitive in a lower carbon global economy.”

Today, only 12% think the federal government, and 8% think their provincial government is doing too much to shift Canada towards a cleaner economy, while 42% think not enough is being done. 

QUOTES

“The idea of preparing for and developing strategies to compete in a cleaner energy world is not really divisive across regional, generational, or party lines, even though the tone of political debate in recent years may leave a different impression. 

“People may not know the details of what is or isn’t being done, and may have different opinions about the ideal pace, but the direction people want to see is clear, and their point of departure is that this shift is not only about protecting the planet, it’s about ensuring there is a healthy economy that is competitive in the years to come.”

 —Bruce Anderson, Chairman, Abacus Data


“For Canadians, the global energy transition has evolved from being an aspiration to a lived reality. Large majorities now recognize that climate change is here and the shift to clean energy is already widespread—and that we ought to be on the opportunity side of that equation. And while Canada gets okay grades from Canadians on climate action, there’s a sizable gap between where Canadians see us now and where they’d like us to be. Nearly nine in 10 would like to see a low-carbon strategy for our broader economy and its many sectors. They understand this is what will make Canada competitive.”


—Merran Smith, Executive Director, Clean Energy Canada


The survey was conducted with 1,419 Canadian adults from November 26 to December 1, 2020. 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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