Canadians want the country to tip balance toward renewable energy and away from oil sands and pipelines
Eighty-four percent of Canadians want the federal government to direct new investment toward a plan to create jobs in the renewable energy sector, according to a national online survey of 1500 Canadians conducted in November 2015 by Oraclepoll Research on behalf of Climate Action Network – Réseau action climat (CAN-Rac) Canada.
Support for investing in renewable energy was one of seven possible priorities for the new federal government and ranked third after modernizing health care (96% important/very important) and investing in infrastructure such as public transit and water treatment (92%). Seventy percent of Canadians want a commitment to legally enforce limits on carbon pollution; 54% want a commitment to phase out coal, oil and gas and replace it with renewable energy, while less than half of all Canadians want to see natural resources like the oil sands expand.
Residents of Ontario and Québec are most enthusiastic about creating jobs in the renewable energy sector, with 60% of Ontario residents seeing this as very important and 58% of Québecers feeling the same way. Sixty-five percent of British Columbians feel that phasing out coal, oil and gas and replacing it with renewable energy is important or very important, followed closely by Québec (63%) and Ontario (61%). Ontario is most supportive of the federal government committing to legally enforce a cap or limits on carbon pollution (79% say important/very important), followed by British Columbia and the Maritimes (both provinces at 73%), Québec (70%) and the Prairies (51%).
Canadians also strongly believe that protecting the climate is more important than building pipelines and further developing the oil sands, with 78% saying they somewhat or strongly agree. Regionally, Ontario is most supportive with 84% of residents somewhat or strongly agreeing that protecting the climate is more important than building pipelines and further developing the oil sands, followed by residents of Québec (82%), British Columbia (75%), and the Prairies (66%).
The TransCanada Energy East pipeline is opposed by almost half of all Canadians, compared to 40% who support it. Regionally, residents of the Maritimes are most opposed to the Energy East pipeline (61% and more than a 2 to 1 margin), followed by residents of Québec (52% and an almost 1.5 to 1 margin), Ontario 48% and almost evenly divided with support at 43%), British Columbia (47%), and the Prairies (35% oppose; 59% support).
We also wanted to know what Canadians thought Canada should bring to the United Nations climate negotiations taking place in Paris, France in December. There is strong national support for Canada making a substantial financial contribution to help people less well off than us to deal with climate change and shift their economies to renewable energy (67% somewhat agree/strongly agree). Canadians also want a Paris Agreement that sets rules for everyone, including us, will follow (63%), and for Canada to partner with leaders to get a fair and effective Paris Agreement (64%). Just over half of Canadians believe that we should do our fair share to combat climate change event if that means shifting investment away from oil and gas development at home and almost 60% believe Canada should ask for special recognition of our growing carbon pollution in the Paris Agreement.
When taken together, these results strongly suggest that Canadians are ready to embrace the transition to renewable energy required to protect the climate and are ready to say no to further development of oil sands and pipelines. At the same time, Canadians are looking for a balanced approach that eases the move toward renewable energy, including some accommodation in the near-term to help the existing oil and gas operations transition both at home and as part of the international climate negotiations. With respect to the Paris negotiations, Canadians want the federal government to make a substantial financial contribution to ease the global transition to renewable energy and to ensure the Paris Agreement is fair and effective with rules that everyone will follow.
Canadians concerned about climate change strongly support action to protect the climate. There is a new federal government in power that says it takes climate change seriously. Premiers say they are committed to doing their part with several of the country’s largest provinces pursuing carbon pricing. Municipalities are considering options for phasing out fossil fuels by 2050. Canadians stand ready to support First Ministers as they begin the work of forging the national accommodation that will be needed to set the country on course to a renewable energy system by 2050. It’s a new day in Canada; 100% renewable; 100% possible.
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