Climate ambition steady: Urgency to act now trending up

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 (PDF, 1.3MB) from Positive Energy and Nanos Research are tracking how keen Canadians are for climate action during the pandemic. This question is designed to measure enthusiasm on climate ambition and detect where opinion may be polarized. The survey results also delve deeper into which sources of information Canadians on the subject of climate change, which Positive Energy and Nanos first explored in the last quarterly tracking survey.

The survey was an RDD dual frame (land- and cell-lines) hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,016 Canadians, 18 years of age or older, between February 28 and March 4, 2021 as part of a Nanos omnibus survey. 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 means absolutely the worst time and 10 absolutely the best time, how good a time is it for Canada to be ambitious in addressing climate change even if there are costs to the economy. They were also asked to specify why they believe so. This is the third time that Positive Energy and Nanos Research have asked this question since the pandemic began.

A strong plurality of Canadians continue to believe that now is a good time to be ambitious in addressing climate change. Asked why it is a good/bad time, nearly 2 in 5 respondents said that we need to act now and climate change cannot wait. In the first round of survey results from July 2020, just 1 in 5 Canadians gave this answer. Opinion on the issue remains somewhat polarized with 34% Canadians answering either 0 or 10. Those numbers have held steady across all three surveys. Responses are broken out by region, age, gender and self-identified ideological orientation.

Canadians were also asked how much they trust 7 different information sources on climate change on a 0 to 10 scale: peer-reviewed science / researchers; traditional news media; environmental organizations; government agencies; politicians; industry; and social media. 

Media coverage