Poll: Canadians want action on global warming despite economic downturn

The following is a news release from the Pembina Institute:

December 2, 2008 – Nearly two-thirds of Canadians want to
see Canada take action to tackle global warming despite the economic
crisis, according to new polling released today by four Canadian
observer organizations at the UN climate talks in Poznan, Poland.

“Canadians believe that the government should tackle global warming
despite the  economic crisis,” said Graham Saul, Climate Action Network
Canada. “Unfortunately, Canada’s government is still stuck in a
mentality that sees action on global warming as a risk to our economy.”

In his first major speech as Canada’s Environment Minister, Jim Prentice pledged last week not to “aggravate an already weakening economy in the name of environmental progress.”

The poll surveyed 1,015 Canadians from November 17 to 23, 2008 on
four questions relevant to the UN climate meetings now underway in
Poznan. The full results, including regional breakdowns, are available here [PDF]. The poll was commissioned by the United Church of Canada, Greenpeace, Climate Action Network Canada-Réseau Action Climat Canada, and the Pembina Institute.    

The poll finds little support from Canadians for some of the arguments
that the Harper government has made at international climate meetings.
For example, 83% of Canadians surveyed agreed with the statement that
“Canada should commit to strong action on global warming without
waiting for other countries” — a position at odds with the government’s
view that Canada cannot move more quickly than the U.S., or that
binding targets for Canada must wait until major developing countries
commit to reducing their emissions.

The Harper government’s current national emissions targets fall far
short of the levels recommended by climate scientists to avoid
catastrophic climate impacts. (The government’s national target for
2020 is equivalent to 3% below the 1990 level, while leading climate
scientists recommend reductions to at least 25% below the 1990 level by
2020.) Despite the government’s position, more than three -quarters of
respondents agreed that “Canada’s global warming targets should be
based on what leading scientists say is needed to avoid serious harm to
people and the environment, even if meeting these targets entails some
cost to the economy.”

Finally, more than two-thirds of those surveyed agreed that “the
world’s richest countries, including Canada, should provide sufficient
financial aid to allow  developing countries to cope with global
warming.” Compensating poorer countries for the effects of global
warming — which has been caused mainly by rich countries’ emissions —
is one of the key issues on the table at the negotiations.

“The results are crystal clear,” said Dave Martin, climate
coordinator for Greenpeace Canada. “Canadians want real leadership on
global warming, and they won’t accept hypocrisy and greenwashing from
the Harper government. Canada should act now without waiting for other

“If the government was listening to Canadians, we’d have a much more
ambitious  approach to cutting our greenhouse gas pollution,” said
Clare Demerse, a senior policy analyst at the Pembina Institute. “Right
now, Canada’s targets are nowhere close to the level that scientists
tell us is needed to do our fair share in avoiding catastrophic global

“Global warming is already putting the world’s poorest people in
harm’s way, and Canadians want to help,” said Joy Kennedy, program
coordinator (poverty, wealth and ecological justice) at The United
Church of Canada. “In Poznan, governments are talking about how to
ensure that funding is provided to poorer countries so they can cope
with climate change. These poll results show that our government must
do much better to live up to Canadians’ expectations.”

The telephone poll was conducted by McAllister Opinion Research, a
member of the international body for professional opinion and market
research. A random sample of 1,015 Canadians were surveyed, producing a
margin of error of +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

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