By Published On: September 22, 2022

For immediate release.

Unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe Territories [OTTAWA], 22 September 2022:

With just over a week left in the federal government’s public consultation on an emissions cap for the oil and gas sector, a new Abacus Data poll released today reveals a strong majority of Canadians believe the cap should ensure the fossil fuel industry takes on its fair share of climate action. The poll also reveals a majority of Canada believe the cap should be rigorous, with no delays or offsets.

Oil and gas companies and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) have pushed back against the cap on oil and gas emissions, complaining that it would be too aggressive and unnecessary. But, as this new poll demonstrates, the policy is broadly supported by Canadians.

The Abacus poll shows that 7 in 10 Canadians (69%) say the emissions cap should ensure the oil and gas industry takes on its fair share of climate action, both compared to other Canadian sectors and on a global level.

  • In every region of Canada, a majority of people agree the oil and gas industry should do its fair share of climate action, with only 16% of respondents country-wide disagreeing.

    • In British Columbia, support is 72%; Quebec, 74%; and Atlantic Canada, 77%.

    • Even Alberta sees a majority (59%) support for this.

  • Youth and older Canadians are especially concerned about fairness, with 68% of 18-to-29-year olds and 74% of people aged 60 and over in support of making the fossil fuel industry do its fair share.

  • Bloc Québecois, New Democratic Party, and Liberal voters all expressed very high levels of support for ensuring Canada’s most-polluting sector does its fair share of climate action (88%, 83%, and 81% respectively).

The promise to “cap oil and gas sector emissions today and ensure they decrease tomorrow” was a 2021 platform commitment from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, reiterated at COP26 in Glasgow. In July, the federal government published a discussion paper on options for the cap and launched an online consultation, closing September 30, 2022.

The oil and gas industry is responsible for 27% of Canada’s emissions, and its emissions shot up by 87% between 1990 and 2019, as other traditionally energy-intensive industries like electricity, heavy industry, and light manufacturing managed to drive down their pollution.

Analysis by Climate Action Network – Réseau action climat (CAN-Rac) illustrates that for the oil and gas industry to take on their fair share of climate action, it must cut emissions by 60% from 2005 levels by 2030. Canada’s Emissions Reduction Plan projects a decrease in oil and gas emissions of only 31% by 2030 – barely half of its fair share, and significantly below Canada’s national target of 40-45% emissions reductions by 2030.

“Right now, oil and gas executives are raking in windfall profits, as families across Canada struggle to make ends meet because of fossilflation,” said Caroline Brouillette, National Policy Director at CAN-Rac. “This industry is perfectly positioned to invest in curbing their emissions. For the industry to try to escape responsibility and continue polluting without limit is an insult to the Canadians from coast to coast suffering from flooding damage and wildfires, smoky air and heat exhaustion.”

In  a blistering speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, Secretary-General António Guterres called out the fossil fuel industry for “feasting on hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies and windfall profits while household budgets shrink and our planet burns,” and demanded an intervention in the world’s fossil fuel addiction.

Overall, the poll found a majority support the cap: 6 in 10 Canadians (58%) support a cap on emissions from the oil and gas industry.

  • In every region across the country outside of Alberta, more people support than oppose a limit on emissions from the oil and gas sector; in Alberta, as many support as oppose the cap. Support rises to 66% in Quebec, 63% in British Columbia and 62% in the Atlantic provinces.

  • The cap is especially popular among youth, with 65% of Canadians aged 18-29 in support.

  • Liberal and Bloc Québecois voters are particularly enthusiastic about the emissions cap, with nearly 8 in 10 (79% and 78% respectively) in support, as well as 72% of NDP voters.

A key factor that will determine whether the policy succeeds at significantly cutting emissions will be whether the government implements rigorous regulations, or whether it caves to industry pressure and allows for loopholes, delays, and offsets (allowing industry to purchase credits from other sectors or countries rather than having to make real emissions cuts within the sector).

A majority of Canadians (55%) say the emissions cap should not allow companies to delay compliance with regulations or buy their way out through offsets.

  • 66% of Atlantic Canadians and 64% of Quebecers support greater rigour over flexibility for industry.

  • A majority of both NDP and Liberal voters believe the cap should be rigorous (70% and 59% respectively), as well as 83% of Bloc Québecois voters.


Tom Green, Senior Climate Policy Adviser for the David Suzuki Foundation, said: “People are reducing their climate impact while bearing the rising costs and impacts of climate-fueled flooding, heatwaves and forest fires. It’s unconscionable that Canada’s highest emitter —the oil and gas sector— enriches shareholders rather than reinvesting profits into reducing pollution. Canadians expect government to cap emissions from oil and gas and transition to a clean energy future where we all benefit.”

Jesse Whattam, digital campaigner at Leadnow, said: “For years, the oil and gas industry has made massive profits from perpetuating climate destruction. Now, as communities face disaster after disaster, big oil wants to put the burden of cleaning up the mess they made on ordinary Canadians. It’s a slap in the face. It’s time for oil and gas companies to do their fair share—cutting their emissions is honestly the least we can expect from them at this point.”

Brenna Walsh, Energy Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre, said: “Results show that Atlantic Canadians prioritize the oil and gas sector being held to account for their past and future emissions. Seventy-seven per cent of Atlantic Canadians – which is 8% more than the national average – think the oil and gas sector should do their fair share in addressing the climate emergency. This cap will help support the transition to a clean future for our communities.”

Aly Hyder Ali, Program Manager for Oil and Gas, Environmental Defence, said: “Canada’s oil and gas sector is the largest and the fastest growing source of emissions in the country, and yet the industry is fighting fiercely to escape responsibility for its own pollution. It’s clear that Canadians are looking for the government to make progress on climate change – and implementing a strong cap on oil and gas emissions is an important part of that. The government needs to put the health and safety of Canadians over the narrow interests of industry. The public is watching!”

Andrew Gage, Staff Lawyer with West Coast Environmental Law, said: “Across Canada people and businesses have been doing their part for the climate, and a majority of Canadians agree the oil industry needs to do the same. The federal government has clear legal authority to regulate national greenhouse gas emissions, and a responsibility to ensure that ever-increasing pollution from the oil and gas industry doesn’t continue to compromise our ability to meet our national targets. A strong, legislated cap on oil and gas emissions is a key tool to prevent that.”

Jan Gorski, policy director for oil and gas at the Pembina Institute, said: “As our biggest source of emissions, the oil and gas industry has the ability to make or break Canada’s international climate promises. We know the sector has all the technology and cashflow at its disposal to start making deep emissions reductions now – and this poll shows that a majority of Canadians think companies should get started on that work. A clear emissions cap for the sector will be crucial to creating the certainty that companies say they need to start making the decarbonization investments they have already promised, and doing their fair share in helping Canada address the climate emergency. If the sector does not grasp this chance, Canadian oil and gas risks getting left behind: even industry forecasts now show that global oil demand is expected to fall by 2030, and producers with the strongest emissions credentials will be best-placed to compete in the near future.”

Simon Guiroy, Coordinator and spokesperson, Front étudiant d’action climatique (FÉDAC), said: “The vast majority of Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which keep increasing every year, actually come from the combustion of our fossil fuel exports. They are 1.3 times greater than all domestic GHGs in Canada. Despite this, the federal government continues to ignore them, making its climate plans ineffective. In Québec, we created the FÉDAC, regrouping most of our student unions with more than 330 000 people, specifically to pressure the federal government on this. Steven Guilbeault, you must include the GHGs from our fossil fuel exports in the emissions cap! We call on all Canadians to tell their MPs to support this critical policy demand.”

Sven Biggs, Canadian Oil and Gas Program Director,, said: “This poll shows that Canadians are fed up with Big Oil refusing to do their fair share to address climate change. We cannot avoid the worst impacts without a cap on emissions from the oil and gas sector, the largest and fastest growing source of climate pollution in the country. For far too long the Big Oil lobby has set the agenda in Ottawa, it’s time for our government to stand up to them and draw a line in tar sands.”

View the Abacus Data poll results here.

Find more background information on the emissions cap here.

Methodology: The Abacus Data poll was conducted with 1,500 Canadian adults from August 26 to 30, 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 +/-2.6%, 19 times out of 20.

The data was weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.


Canada’s farthest-reaching network of organizations working on climate and energy issues, Climate Action Network – Réseau action climat (CAN-Rac) Canada is a coalition of 140 organizations operating from coast to coast to coast. Our membership brings environmental groups together with trade unions, First Nations, social justice, development, health and youth organizations, faith groups and local, grassroots initiatives.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:

Vicky Coo, Communications Lead, 613-203-3272