A report detailing Canadian and US public opinion on climate change and based on the results of two national surveys was released Wednesday by the Public Policy Forum and Sustainable Prosperity (full report here, pdf).
The big takeaways:
- Far more Canadians than Americans believe climate change is real (80 percent vs. 58 percent).
- Canadians, unlike their US counterparts, see clear government responsibility in addressing climate change (65 percent vs. 43 percent).
- And unlike the bulk of Americans, Canadians are willing to pay for global warming solutions (twice as many Canadians as Americans support both a cap-and-trade system for industry and the idea of paying a carbon tax of up to $50 a month).
Support for Climate Policies in the US and Canada—and Willingness to Pay
Note: Support levels represent the percentage of respondents who indicated that they either “strongly supported” or “somewhat supported” the policy option.
Find this article interesting? Support more research like this with a gift!
More takeaways (much of this we already knew—but a side by side comparison between our two nations is interesting):
- In the United States an individual’s partisan affiliation is the most important determinant of their views on the existence of global warming, with Democrats significantly more likely than Republicans to believe that the climate is changing.
- Partisan affiliation is also associated with individual views on global warming in Canada, with Conservative Party supporters significantly less likely than supporters of all other parties to believe the earth is warming.
- Americans remain highly divided on claims that scientists are manipulating climate research for their own interests, with most Canadians rejecting such claims.
And some more details of note.
As mentioned above, Canadians outpace Americans in their belief that climate change is real—and the gap is pretty significant. In Canada, 80 percent believe the science behind climate change, compared with 58 percent in the United States, based on answers to the surveys’ question: “From what you’ve read and heard, is there solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past four decades?”
One slightly promising finding vis-Ã -vis trends in American public opinion: After experiencing significant declines in the level of belief that global warming is occurring between the fall of 2008 and spring of 2010, American belief rebounded slightly in late 2010, but remained well below the levels observed in 2008. Still, the Canadians put their American neighbors to shame on this one!
What’s more, the report shines a spotlight on a significant cultural difference between the two neighboring countries, namely, a different relationship with and set of expectations for government.
Just 43 per cent of Americans believe their national government has a great deal of responsibility to address climate change. In Canada, 65 per cent of respondents believe the government has a role to play.
In fact, the poll suggests Canadians want to see all levels of government—from Parliament Hill to provincial capitals to city hall—do something about climate change.
Interestingly, while Canadians place the primary responsibility for addressing global warming on the federal government, the report shows that a majority of both Canadians and Americans believe that state and local governments also share responsibility for addressing this problem.
But unlike Americans, says Alex Wood of Sustainable Prosperity, a research and policy network at the University of Ottawa, Canadians are willing to pay for it. “They believe carbon pricing is part of the necessary policy and they’re not scared of it,” Wood told the CBC.
And, as I mentioned above, the surveys show about twice as many Canadians as Americans support both a cap-and-trade system for industry and the idea of paying a carbon tax of up to $50 a month, (although, to be fair, some Americans do say they would be willing to contribute something … especially to the development of renewable energy). Canadians are significantly less likely than Americans to indicate that they are not prepared to pay anything each year for the development of more renewable energy, and more likely to express a willingness to pay higher levels for increasing the availability of alternative energy sources:
Between 2008 and 2010, and corresponding with adverse economic conditions in the global economy, the NSAPOCC tracked a decline in willingness to pay for renewable energy development. While most Americans indicated that they would be willing to contribute at least something to promote the development of renewable energy, the overall financial commitment levels has fallen in each of the three NSAPOCC studies, with 4 out of 10 Americans in 2010 indicating that they would not be willing to pay anything for greater production of renewable energy.
(NSAPOCC is National Survey of American Public Opinion on Climate Change, on which this report is based along with the National Survey of Canadian Public Opinion.)
As the CBC reports, the Harper government has said it won’t set up a cap-and-trade system without the United States, but Alex Wood thinks the polling numbers from Canadians clearly show Ottawa should reconsider.
Table courtesy: Public Policy Forum and Sustainable Prosperity.
To You Faded Believers Selfishly Scaring Our Kids:In Southern Ontario, the city of London Ontario Canada has not had one single smog day in over 5 years, just alerts to a possible smog day, (a “smog warning”).And you still insist on condemning our children to a death by unstoppable warming? Pollution is real, death by SUV gas was not.If you faded doomers had any credibility at all, you would stop calling unstoppable warming “severe weather” snowstorms and cold snaps. It’s a death threat, not disagreeable weather and we former believers promise you this, history will not be kind to this CO2 evnironMENTAL era.Has this great source of news reported that the Republicans pulled all American funding from the IPCC on Feb 20th? Climate change has done to journalism and science what abusive priests and suicide bombers did for religion.
Willingness-to-pay surveys are problematic, and differences between US-Canada responses could be attributable to different interpretation of what is already being paid and what more would be expected. Survey didn’t include Canadian cellphone users, a large proportion of whom are young, university students. Most importantly, beyond the US-Canada split, surveyors did not include respondents’ geographic location. This is a critical omission, because its quite possible that regional responses could show greater regional differences than national differences. There are several states and provinces that depend on fossil fuels for much of their electricity generation, and many that have different mixes of fossil, nuclear, hydro. QuÃ©bec is so heavily into large hydro use and exports (not a renewable because of major environmental impacts) that it is important to parse out their responses.Given that regional responses may well reveal less-significant US-Canada differences than regional differences, the omission of regions from the report may suggest that the intention of those who paid for the report was pre-ordained to exaggerate US-Canada differences. Such a political agenda does a disservice to climate change science.
But there is an amazing disconnect between this survey and those that show growing support for a Harper Conservative government!How can you reconcile 65% support for government action on climate change with the 45% support for a specific government who will do anything they can (legal, or even illegal) to stop climate change action dead in its tracks?With rumblings of a spring election in the air, I sure hope those 65% of Canadians who support government action on climate change vote that way!
System Change, not Climate Change:If a climate crisis was real, we be talking about it, not debating it’s existence. Scientists have families too. Why are the scientists not marching in the streets and screaming crisis on Oprah and CNN?Why do the thousands of consensus scientists always out number the protesters?Why did Obama not say “climate change” or “EPA” in his state of the union in Feb.2011?The scientists say we humans are contributing less CO2 thanks to the world economy yet global CO2 levels continue to rise?Do you believe the death warrant for the planet enough to look your very own children in the eyes and tell them in vague and deceptive language that they will die an unspeakable CO2 death? Doesn’t the fact that climate science is so political, show that it’s ……political?If you still think voters will vote yes to taxing the air to make the weather colder, you are the new denier.
So why do Canadians partake in the Tar Sands oil extraction?? It makes no sense and is the ultimate in hypocrisy since tar sands oil extraction is the worst possible way to get fossil fuels in terms of GHG pollution… not to mention water pollution and destruction of land and forests.
The UHA temperature record shows no global warming since 1979. That is as of January 2012. Good news folks there is nothing to worry about!