Canadians rate level of agreement on energy and climate issues

The University of Ottawa’s Positive Energy program uses the convening power of the university to bring together academic researchers and senior decision-makers from industry, government, Indigenous communities, local communities and environmental organizations to determine how to strengthen public confidence in energy decision-making.

Mockup of report.

The survey

New survey results from Positive Energy and Nanos Research (PDF, 1.7MB) evaluate how Canadians perceive the level of public consensus on a number of climate and energy issues. The survey asks Canadians about the current level of agreement on these issues, as well as the level of agreement relative to five years ago.

The survey measures perspectives on the current level of agreement on these issues and the level of agreement relative to five years ago. Results are broken out by age, region, ideology, and vote preference. 

The survey was RDD dual frame (land- and cell-lines) hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1026 Canadians,18 years of age or older, between October 31st and November 3rd, 2021. The margin of error is 3.1 percentage points plus or minus, 19 times out of 20.

The analysis

Canadians were asked on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is very low agreement and 10 is very high agreement, how much agreement they think there is on both climate action and the future of oil and gas production in Canada. A majority think there is either low or mediocre agreement on both subjects (mean scores of 4.7 and 4.2 out of 10, respectively).

Canadians were then asked why they hold these opinions. For climate action, the most common answers were climate denial/skepticism (15%), political conflict/polarization (14%) and the presence of other priorities (14%). For oil and gas, the most common answers were polarization (25%), the economic importance of oil and gas (9%), and overall dependence on oil (8%). Canadians were also asked what they believe could be done to build consensus. A range of answers were given, the most common being education of public/leaders/media (15%).

Lastly, respondents were asked to evaluate the level of public agreement on four topics compared to five years ago, using the same 0 to 10 scale: reducing greenhouse gas emissions in line with Canada's international targets (mean score 5.8 out of 10); taxes on carbon-based fuels (4.7 out of 10); the future of oil and gas production in Canada (4.3 out of 10); and building oil and gas pipelines (3.9 out of 10). Overall, these results suggest that many Canadians perceive public opinion on many climate and energy issues to be divided, if not outright polarized.

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