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Poll: British Columbians want climate and clean energy at the centre of B.C.’s recovery plan

Most British Columbians see the province’s post-COVID economic recovery as an opportunity to increase the B.C. government’s climate efforts through investments in clean energy and technology—and believe doing so would likely be to our economic benefit. As the government surveys British Columbians to help shape its recovery plan, new polling from Stratcom and Clean Energy Canada offers insight into how many would like to see things unfold.

Over three-quarters of British Columbians (79%) agree that the economic changes brought about by COVID-19 provide an opportunity to do more now to fight climate change. Asked whether climate action should be at the centre of the province’s recovery plans, 57% say yes versus 36% who oppose the idea. The poll surveyed 802 British Columbians (see methodology below).

Roughly half (48%) of respondents also believe provincial government efforts to make the economy cleaner will make B.C. more competitive in the global marketplace, compared to one in five (20%) who think it will make B.C. less competitive. That said, 85% support efforts to make B.C.’s economy cleaner, regardless of impacts on competitiveness.

On a list of 10 areas in which the government could invest, “clean energy and technology” is considered the most vital with 64% rating it important. This is followed by “energy efficient homes and buildings” (61%), “tourism” (56%),“high tech industries” (52%) and “electric vehicle charging infrastructure” (44%). Nearer the bottom of the list, “oil, gas and LNG” is chosen as important by just 33% of respondents.

British Columbians were also polled on their support for specific clean stimulus and recovery measures. Support is highest for energy efficient retrofits (60%), followed by investments in electric buses (59%) and public transit more broadly (55%).

A strong majority also believe that traditional resource industries in B.C. should definitely (39%) or in some cases (48%) be required to implement better sustainability measures, such as using less-polluting processes and cleaner vehicles to shrink their carbon footprint.

In terms of how well British Columbians believe the current government is combating climate change, opinions are overwhelmingly middle-of-the-road. A plurality (45%) rate the B.C. government as doing “okay,” with a further 24% rating it “pretty well” and 5% “very well.” Only 15% say the province is doing “poorly.”

And yet there is relatively low awareness of B.C.’s current climate plan, CleanBC, with only 8% reporting they are very aware of its existence and 42% saying they are somewhat aware. Once presented with a brief summary of the CleanBC plan, the vast majority of British Columbians (86%) approve the government’s approach, with only 8% disapproving.

QUOTES

“British Columbians’ experience with the COVID-19 crisis appears to be increasing their desire for action on another looming crisis: climate change. Premier Horgan and the government have signalled an intent to put CleanBC, the province’s climate plan, at the centre of economic recovery. These results suggest this is the approach British Columbians want to take too: not returning to business as usual but using recovery efforts to rebuild a cleaner, sustainable economy.” 

—Merran Smith, Executive Director, Clean Energy Canada

“COVID-19 has been an enormous challenge for many in B.C., but many report in this poll that they favour all the more environmentally friendly measures tested over more traditional forms of economic development. This presents a key opportunity for the government to put climate-friendly economic policies—that resonate with the widest cross section of B.C. residents—at the centre of COVID economic recovery.”

—Bob Penner, CEO, Stratcom

METHODOLOGY

The survey was conducted online using a proprietary panel with 802 British Columbian adults from June 12 to 17, 2020. Respondents were statistically weighted to match the gender, age, region and proportion of Chinese mother tongue in B.C. as per the 2016 Census. Online polls don’t report margin of error, but a similar sized probability sample would have a margin of error of +/- 3.5%, 19 times out of 20.

Strategic Communications Inc. (Stratcom) is an award-winning consulting firm that has been designing and implementing strategic research since 1991 for not-for-profit organizations, charities, unions, professional associations, regulatory agencies, governments and government agencies. Stratcom has conducted quantitative and qualitative research in every province in Canada and in the U.K., the U.S., Australia, India, Brazil and Western Europe, in many languages. The company’s research has been noted in the Toronto Star, the Vancouver Sun, the Globe and Mail and Maclean’s.

You can view the full results of the poll here.