Poll: Most Canadians favour a quicker end to coal power

Survey shows support for phasing out coal-fired electricity and other policies to transition to clean energy

OTTAWA—New public opinion research shows a majority of Canadians want to see Canada’s remaining coal-fired power plants shut down by 2030 (73% support or somewhat support the idea). This result comes from a survey of 1,000 Canadians conducted by Nanos Research at the request of Clean Energy Canada.

Canada’s last coal-fired power plant is currently scheduled to shut down in 2043. However, Alberta has committed to stop burning coal for electricity by 2030, and Ontario phased out coal power in 2014.

New economic modelling done for Clean Energy Canada by Navius Research found that phasing out all coal power by 2030—and ensuring that any new power that comes online is clean—would cut Canada’s emissions by nearly 12 million tonnes in 2030, roughly equivalent to the emissions produced by two million cars in a year.

The poll also found strong support for other policies that would help accelerate Canada’s transition to clean energy, including federal support to help provinces use more renewable electricity, switching buildings and vehicles to clean power, and measures to cut the carbon emissions from gasoline and diesel fuel.

Overall, more than three-quarters of respondents support or somewhat support having the federal government prioritize investment in clean energy and clean technology—an essential step in Canada’s transition off fossil fuels and onto clean energy.

A detailed backgrounder with the full survey questions and results is available here. The economic modelling research on top provincial climate and energy policies is available here.


  • 73% of respondents support or somewhat support an accelerated coal phase-out, where Canada stops burning coal for electricity by 2030 instead of 2043.
  • 77% support or somewhat support switching vehicles and buildings from using fossil fuels to clean electricity.
  • 80% of respondents support or somewhat support Canada adopting a new clean fuel standard, to reduce the carbon emissions from producing and using gasoline and diesel fuel.
  • Economic modelling analysis suggests that making a clean fuels standard like British Columbia’s a national policy could cut Canada’s carbon pollution by up to 30 million tonnes in 2030—equivalent to taking six million cars off the road that year.
  • 82% of respondents support or somewhat support having the federal government provide technology and infrastructure support that enables provinces to use more renewable electricity, such as solar and wind power.
  • 76% of respondents support or somewhat support having the federal government make investing in clean energy and clean technology a top priority.


“Canadians want to see a climate and clean growth plan that will kick the energy transition into high gear. The world is shifting to clean energy, and Canada can be among the leaders if we adopt strong policies to capitalize on our clean energy advantage. This survey found strong support for investing in clean technology and switching to clean power—the kinds of choices that will make Canada more competitive in the long run.”

— Merran Smith, Executive Director of Clean Energy Canada

“This survey found strong support for phasing out coal power faster and cleaning up the fuel in our cars and trucks. Clearly, Canadians have an appetite for smart, effective measures to speed up our clean energy transition. Canada’s leaders can and should deliver those kinds of effective policies in the national climate plan they’re developing this fall.”

— Clare Demerse, Federal Policy Advisor at Clean Energy Canada


The data was collected using a random-digit-dialing, dual-frame (land- and cell- lines) hybrid telephone and online survey of 1,000 Canadians, 18 years of age or older, between September 24 and 27. Participants were randomly recruited by telephone using live agents and administered a survey online. The results were statistically checked and weighted by age and gender using the latest Census information and the sample is geographically stratified to be representative of Canada. The margin of error is ±3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Backgrounder | Canadians’ Opinions on the Clean Energy Transition (October 2016)

View the polling results from Nanos Research.


While the prime minister and the premiers work to develop a national clean growth and climate action plan, some provinces have already adopted policies that are cutting carbon pollution and driving clean economic development.

Clean Energy Canada set out to examine what could be achieved if leading provincial climate and clean energy policies were applied across the country. We commissioned Navius Research to quantify the economic and greenhouse gas implications of expanding these leading provincial policies into national initiatives.

Report | Building on the Best: How adopting top provincial climate policies across Canada could drive clean growth (October 2016)

View the detailed modelling results from Navius Research.

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