Increasing Majority Call Canada’s Pollution
Laws Inadequate

Global warming is top environmental issue

Concern higher now than in 1992 when UN Climate Change
Convention first signed

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Vancouver, September 4, 2007
A newly-released poll by the Environmental Monitor research program shows that seven in ten (70%) Canadians now call this country’s pollution laws inadequate, up sharply from 11 years ago when just fewer than half (41%) felt this way.

The Environmental Monitor poll also found that when Canadians are asked to spontaneously name their top environmental concern, the most frequent mention is global warming (29%), up nine points nationally from July 2006. When asked to rate the seriousness of climate change, 66 percent of Canadians view climate change as a “very serious” problem, up from 57 percent in 2006 and 44 percent in 2000.

Comparing this data to other countries polled, Canadians rank among the top five countries in the world for their views on the seriousness of climate change - 84 percent of Brazilians rate climate change a very serious problem, followed by Chile (70%), India (68%) and Canada, tied with Mexico and France. Interestingly, a bare majority of Americans (50%) view climate change as a very serious problem.

The Environmental Monitor poll finds that while more Canadians than ever now favour stricter regulation of industrial pollution, sentiments vary according to industrial sector. Asked about stricter regulations for various industries to combat global warming, clear majorities strongly favour these for the chemical industry (67%), oil and gas industry (62%) and the automobile industry (58%). Just 43 percent strongly favour stricter regulations for the forestry, manufacturing and mining industries.  Canadians, especially younger adults under 25, are least likely to favour stricter regulations for the airline industry (39%), electrical power generators (39%) and the agriculture industry (34%).

Conducted twice-yearly since 1987, The Environmental Monitor is Canada’s longest-running poll on the environment and natural resources. The latest survey was conducted during the last two weeks of July 2007 by McAllister Opinion Research under licence to GlobeScan which conducts similar research in 20 countries.

“Canadians are growing increasingly concerned about the threat of climate change”, says Angus McAllister, president of McAllister Opinion Research. “The public are initially open to less onerous alternatives to regulation like voluntary measures and tax incentives. But when the performance of a particular sector is perceived to be lagging, the public is quick to demand regulation, and are slow to back off.” 

Drawing from his firm’s 20-nation polling over 15 years, GlobeScan President Doug Miller observes, “Canadians are among the most concerned citizens in the world today about the seriousness of climate change—and that's saying a lot given the worldwide surge in concern over the last four years."

"Our tracking of Canadian opinion shows that Prime Minister Steven Harper has 8 percent more public support today for significant action on climate than Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney had in 1992 when he was one of the first to sign the Rio Earth Summit's Framework Convention on Climate Change (which led to the Kyoto Protocol).”

Today, Environmental Monitor research shows that air pollution comes in second to global warming, as a spontaneously mentioned environmental issue. However, the research shows that when top air pollution concerns are probed, these are likely to be global warming, greenhouse gases and fossil fuel emissions. 

Concern about global warming is by far the highest in Canada’s North, while it is lowest in Quebec. Global warming is the top concern in all other regions, including Alberta. University graduates and young adults under 25 are the most likely to name global warming as a concern, while high school graduates and women aged 55+ are least likely to do so.

Asked how much can be done to reduce the amount of future climate change or global warming, nearly eight in ten (79%) Canadians express the view that a great deal or a good amount can be done.  An identical question asked in a Washington Post / Stanford poll in April 2007 shows that just 63 percent of Americans say a great deal or good amount can be done.  McAllister says “Canadians expect Canada to be a world leader when it comes to solving environmental problems.”  The pollster cautions that this means higher expectations for environmental performance and greater potential for disapproval when these expectations are not met.

Environmental Monitor™ polling results for Canada are based telephone interviews with a random (RDD) sample of 2,006 Canadians aged 18+ conducted between July 11–30, 2007.  Weighted down to 1,505 to account for extra regional sample quotas, the margin of error is ±2.5%, 19 times out of 20.

The Environmental Monitor, is the premier research program on environmental attitudes in Canada, and has tracked public opinion on environment, natural resource and sustainability issues twice yearly for over 20 years.

 The Environmental Monitor™ is owned by GlobeScan Incorporated, and licensed in Canada to McAllister Opinion Research. McAllister Opinion Research conducts the Environmental Monitor™ as a syndicated study made available to clients in government, industry, academic and the non-profit sector.

For more information, please contact:
Angus McAllister
McAllister Opinion
604.633.4981 (office)
778.999.7506 (cell)

Doug Miller

416.969.3075 (office)
416.230.2231 (cell)

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