Climate Change Tops Priority List, But Most Canadians Feel It’s Equally Human-Caused and Natural Cycles

53% of Canadians feel that climate change cannot simply be blamed on human activity alone, and there are still 10% of Canadians who believe that climate change is not happening at all.

Vancouver, BC – Highlights from our latest comprehensive poll on climate change attitudes shows that Canadians feel it is by far the most dominant issue facing the world, but most feel it is caused by a combination of human activities and natural environmental changes. Regardless, most Canadians believe they are not doing enough to combat climate change, but express a strong willingness to make future sacrifices to save the planet according to our Climate Change Insights report. (Our full report will be available at the end of February – click here for us to send you a link when it is published).

Almost half of Canadians (45%) select climate change to be the first, second or third most important issue facing the world today among a list of other important issues—including 28% who choose it as their number one issue. Other pressing issues selected include threats to democracy (29% rank it as 1, 2 or 3), food and water security (27%), terrorism (24%), and poverty (23%), but all come in at a much less dominant percentage. Further down the list are other important issues such as income inequality (18%) economic development, immigration and plastic in our oceans (all three at 16%). British Columbia leads the country in its concern for climate change by a significant margin, with 57% of BC residents including it in their top 3 most important issues facing the world today, and 33% who rank it #1. Canadians aged 18-34 are the most concerned age group, coming in at 60%, compared to those aged 35-54 (41%), and those aged 55+ (38%). This topic is a politically divisive issue, as Conservative voters are significantly less likely to put it in their top three concerns (12%) compared to NDP voters (65%) and Liberal voters (65%).

Canadians feel they are doing a good job staying informed about the climate change issue.  When asked how aware they consider themselves around the issue of climate change, 100% of Canadians consider themselves aware, with 39% “aware and very familiar”, 51% “aware and somewhat familiar”, 7% “aware and not very familiar”, and 2% “aware and not at all familiar”. Familiarity is relatively similar across the provinces, with Albertans having the highest rate of “aware and very familiar” (48%).

Most Canadians (53%) feel that climate change cannot simply be blamed on human activity alone (only 16% believe this), and that it is caused by a combination of human activities and natural environment changes.  A further 15% of Canadians think climate change is caused “equally by human activities and natural changes in the environment”, and 12% think it is caused “mostly by natural changes in the environment and some by human activities”. Surprisingly, there are still 10% of Canadians who believe that climate change is not happening at all, with 21% of Albertans and 22% of Conservative voters holding this point of view.

It is clear that climate change is a hugely important issue to Canadians, and is of significant concern, as 84% of Canadians consider themselves worried about climate change, with 47% saying they are “very worried” and 37% saying “somewhat worried”. Far fewer are less concerned, with 13% being “not very worried” and 3% being “not at all worried”. The degree of worry decreases with age, as 9-in-10 Canadians aged 18-34 (92%) consider themselves worried, followed by 8-in-10 of those aged 34-55 and 55+. British Columbia is second only to Quebec as the most worried province, with 88% of BC Residents considering themselves worried about climate change.

Looking on the bright side, Canadians as a whole are quite optimistic that solutions can be found to address the causes of climate change. 69% of Canadians consider themselves confident that solutions can be found, with 26% being “very confident” and 43% being “somewhat confident”. Less optimistic Canadians include the 18% who consider themselves “not very confident” and 10% “not at all confident”, leaving the remaining 3% of Canadians as “not sure”. Both British Columbia and Ontario come in as the most optimistic provinces, with 73% being confident that solutions can be found to address the causes of climate change. Alberta is the most pessimistic province, with 33% of residents considering themselves not confident that climate change solutions can be found.

When asked if they are personally doing enough to help combat climate change, Canadians are split down the middle. Just under half (48%) of Canadians think they are doing enough to combat climate change, with 14% saying they are doing “more than enough” and 34% saying they are doing “enough”. A slight majority (52%) of Canadians think they are not doing enough to combat climate change, with 47% saying they are doing “not enough” and 5% saying they are doing “not nearly enough”. British Columbia is the province that believes the most strongly that we need to do more to combat climate change, with 53% of residents saying they are doing “not enough” and 5% saying “not nearly enough”. Alberta is the province that is the most sure of itself when it comes to combatting climate change, as 22% of residents believe they are doing “more than enough” and 39% believe they are doing “enough” to combat climate change.

There are a wide number of activities that Canadians are doing or are planning to do in the future to combat climate change. About 4-in-5 Canadians have already bought energy efficient lightbulbs (89%), reduced home energy consumption (81%), and reduced their use of plastic bags (78%) to combat climate change. A large number have also reduced their use of gas vehicles (42%), walk more (44%), buy more used items (48%) or reduce purchases or consumption overall (55%). Buying an electric vehicle and taking part in an environmental issue campaign or demonstration are the least popular actions being taken to combat climate change, with only 3% and 11% of Canadians currently doing, but a significantly larger number say they are planning to do so in the near future (34% and 17%).

In our soon to be published “Climate Change Insights” report, Insights West will cover these issues more in depth, and will also examine how citizens rate our provincial and federal government performance in this area relative to other countries and continents. We also examine in-depth attitudes and beliefs on both sides of the climate change debate via a series of attitudinal statements, as well as explore the sense of urgency people feel around this topic.

“In our most comprehensive survey on this topic since its inception, I was somewhat surprised at how passionate Canadians and British Columbians are in particular about the climate change debate” says Steve Mossop, president of Insights West. “There is a great sense of urgency about the topic, but I’m also encouraged by the sense of optimism towards the future and the extent to which Canadians are willing to change their behavioural patterns to counter the effect of climate change.”

 

About Insights West:

Insights West is a progressive, Western-based, full-service marketing research company. It exists to serve the market with insights-driven research solutions and interpretive analysis through leading-edge tools, normative databases, and senior-level expertise across a broad range of public and private sector organizations. Insights West is based in Vancouver and Calgary.

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from January 19th to January 22nd, 2019, among a representative sample of 1339 Canadian adults, with a sample boost of 519 British Columbians. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 2.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.  Discrepancies between totals are due to rounding. Click here to view the detailed data tabulations.

For further information, please contact:

Steve Mossop
President, Insights West
778-379-1140

stevemossop@insightswest.com