Survey: Canadians losing confidence in government leadership on climate change

VANCOUVER, Nov. 18, 2013 /CNW/ - Although Canadians continue to expect governments to take the lead on climate change, they appear to be losing confidence in their leaders, according to a survey released today by the Environics Institute for Survey Research in partnership with the David Suzuki Foundation.

It found that a majority of Canadians accept the reality of climate change due to human activity, and that the number who believe in the conclusiveness of the science continues to grow. Most Canadians believe something can be done to address climate change, including shifting energy requirements from fossil fuels to cleaner renewable forms of energy.

These are some of the key findings of the survey, released as government representatives from around the world gather in Warsaw, Poland, for the United Nations climate change summit. 

"As in past surveys, belief in the scientific reality of climate change is evident across the country, but most widespread among Canadians with a post-secondary degree, those under 60 years of age and those who generally support the federal opposition parties," said Keith Neuman, executive director of the Environics Institute. "At the same time, this belief in the science is also held by four in 10 Conservative party supporters, almost twice the number who question that climate change is really taking place."

Over the past six years, since Environics began tracking on climate issues and attitudes, Canadians have increasingly looked to governments to implement new standards and regulations. Over the past 12 months, however, the public's confidence in government as the lead actor in addressing climate change has declined sharply (to 53 per cent, down six points) and is now back to where it stood in June 2011.

"Canadians have for decades looked to their governments for leadership on addressing climate change and other environmental problems. This latest survey shows a noticeable drop in the public's confidence in governments' capacity to play this role, and this may well be because citizens haven't seen any evidence of leadership, especially at the federal level," Neuman said.

"The results underscore the need for the Canadian government to change its past practices and become a constructive global citizen at the UN climate change summit in Warsaw," said Ian Bruce, science and policy manager at the David Suzuki Foundation. "Canada's job in Warsaw should be to collaborate with countries around the world to come up with an effective and binding international agreement to reduce global warming emissions."

The survey examined public opinion on climate change as part of the Focus Canada public opinion research program. It is based on telephone interviews conducted with 2,003 Canadians between October 1 and 17, 2013. A sample of this size drawn from the population produces results accurate to within plus or minus 2.2 percentage points in 19 out of 20 samples.

The full results can be found here:

SOURCE: David Suzuki Foundation

For further information:

Media Contacts:

Alvin Singh, Communications Manager
David Suzuki Foundation
(604) 740-4318;

Keith Neuman, Ph.D., Executive Director
Environics Institute for Survey Research
416-969-2457 or 416-272-6628

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