CALGARY, Oct. 31, 2012 /CNW/ - Findings from a national survey released today by The School of Public Policy reveal that while Canadians have a general understanding of energy issues, they lack detailed knowledge about sources of energy and their environmental impacts. This in turn makes it difficult for Canada to engage in an informed debate about energy policy. The poll sampled 1,508 Canadians from coast to coast with a margin of error +/- 3.0 percent 19 times out of 20.
In a report that outlines the survey results, Michal Moore, André Turcotte and Jennifer Winter explain that while a large majority of the Canadian public is worried about environmental issues arising from energy production, few people are aware of the environmental impacts of alternative sources of energy. Instead, concern appears to be focused on hydrocarbons and coal and nuclear power.
Energy literacy also appears to vary geographically according to the authors. "In terms of overall literacy, which can be described as a combination of knowledge and behaviour consistent with that knowledge, there are significant differences that are not consistent geographically or by population density," they write. "P.E.I., Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta are clearly deficient in overall energy literacy."
An example of this regional variation lies in the understanding of electricity generation. The authors asked Canadians in each province what they thought the main source of electricity (hydro, nuclear, coal, gas, etc.) was in their province. In several provinces, respondents were unable to correctly identify the major electricity generation technology.
Another important finding from the survey is that Canadians profess a low level of trust in certain groups when it comes to information about energy. The public shows less trust in energy companies and governments and more in academics and economic experts. Therefore, the authors argue, if Canada wishes to boost public understanding of important energy issues, using academics and economic experts as a source for information will offer a greater chance of success.
The report can be found at www.policyschool.ucalgary.ca/publications
SOURCE: The School of Public Policy - University of Calgary
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