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Poll: Canadians see clean energy eclipsing oil and gas in economic importance for Canada

In the latest round of survey work by Clean Energy Canada and Abacus Data, for every person who thinks oil and gas will be very important for Canada’s economy in 10 years, twice as many feel that way about clean energy.

The results paint a picture of a population that believes oil and gas matter to today’s economy, but a striking number also see the clean energy sector as highly important. What’s more, the public tends to believe that clean energy will become more important over time, while oil and gas will recede in importance.

Key findings include:

  • Across the country, roughly equal numbers say the oil and gas sector and the clean energy sector are important to the national economy. In Alberta, the perception is that oil and gas is more important to the national economy than clean energy. In the rest of the country, the opposite is true. 
  • In every part of the country but the Prairies, more people think clean energy is important to their provincial economy than oil and gas.
  • When asked about the importance of each of these sectors to the Canadian economy 10 years from now, 28% say that oil and gas will be very important, while 59% say the same thing about the clean energy sector. There has been a striking increase since November 2020 in the proportion of Canadians who believe clean energy will be important to Canada’s economy in the future.

While public opinion is somewhat split on whether the federal government and provincial governments are doing the right amount to help shift the country towards a cleaner economy, there are roughly three Canadians who would like to see more action in this direction for every one who would like to see less. Among Albertans and Conservative voters, only about a third think the government of Canada is doing too much.

The same is true when it comes to feelings about provincial governments. Again, it is interesting to note that 46% think the Alberta government is not doing enough while 11% think it is doing too much. 


When told that Canada’s target to reduce emissions is 40-45% below the 2005 level, by the year 2030, 29% say they feel that target is too ambitious, and 21% say it is not ambitious enough—with the plurality saying it is about the right level of ambition. In May of 2021, 33% felt that target was too ambitious, and 15% thought it was not ambitious enough. 

In Alberta, 45% say the target is too ambitious, while a slim majority say it is about right (37%) or not ambitious enough (19%). Across generations, feelings about the target are largely similar with pluralities or majorities saying the target is about right. Among Conservative voters, there is a split, with 51% saying the target is too ambitious.

Two out of three people believe that if Canada were to meet that target, “our economy will become stronger and more competitive along the way,” while only a third (32%) believe we will become weaker and less competitive. A majority of Albertans also believe the Canadian economy would become stronger and more competitive.


“Canadians see the shift towards cleaner economies as a global trend and one that is gathering momentum and creating economic opportunity along the way. While there are regional and partisan differences that are worth noting there is probably more consensus on the direction Canada should pursue than some might expect. The question for most people is not whether the shift to a cleaner economy is inevitable or desirable but how well Canada will tack with this trend and take advantage of it rather than resist it.”

Bruce Anderson, Chairman of Abacus Data

“Canadians are witnessing governments, major automakers, and big corporations compete on the world stage as they race to secure market share in the growing clean energy sector. We asked these same questions in 2020, and in just 14 months, the number of Canadians who said the clean energy sector would be very important in 10 years shot up 19 points. Building Canada’s clean economy has gone from being from a nice idea to a necessary reality.”

Trevor Melanson, Communications Director of Clean Energy Canada


The survey was conducted with 1,500 Canadian adults from January 20 to 25th, 2022. 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 +/- 2.53%, 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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