Only two per cent of Canadians believe climate change is not occurring, a new important survey released today by IPAC-CO2 Research Inc. concluded.
The survey comes on the heels of Alberta Premier Alison Redford's recent push for a National Energy Strategy, which would address the future of Canada's oil and gas industries, and its approach to carbon management.
"Our survey indicates that Canadians from coast to coast overwhelmingly believe climate change is real and is occurring, at least in part due to human activity" explained Dr. Carmen Dybwad, CEO of the environmental non-government organization. "These findings have been consistent from 2011 and 2012. Canadians care about issues like extreme weather, drought and climate change."
Opinions about the cause of climate change and how to combat it are, however, sharply divided among the provinces and by region.
"Canadians most commonly (54%) believe that climate change is occurring partially due to human activity and partially due to natural climate variation," said Briana Brownell of Insightrix Research, who conducted the survey for IPAC-CO2.
"Residents of Quebec (44 %), Atlantic Canada (34%) and British Columbia (32 %) are more likely to believe climate change is occurring due to human activity than those on the Prairies (Alberta and Saskatchewan 21 %, Manitoba 24 %)."
Canadians are also divided on what they believe should be the priorities to fight climate change.
A total of 35% of Canadians believe the priority should be to promote cleaner cars running on electricity or low-carbon fuels while only 13% favored a tax on carbon dioxide emissions from the whole economy. Support for a carbon tax is lowest in B.C. (6%) and highest in Quebec (24%).
A key solution cited by Canadians is Carbon Capture and Storage, or CCS, which involves capturing carbon dioxide from an industrial source of greenhouse gases, transporting it, and storing it deep in the Earth's subsurface.
A majority of Canadians agree that capturing and storing carbon dioxide should be compulsory when building a new coal (59%) or natural gas (57%) power plant, though Canadians are concerned about the risks associated with CCS.
Quebec residents (71%) would be the most concerned if carbon dioxide was stored underground within 1.5 kilometres to 3 kilometres from their home, while Saskatchewan residents (43%) were the least worried.
Residents of B.C. (60%) are most likely to believe that the storage of carbon dioxide represents a safety risk in the future. Again, Saskatchewan residents (48%) are significantly less likely to hold this belief.
"CCS is not the "magic bullet" solution to combat climate change, but the development of CCS technology represents a necessary step in reducing Canada's emissions," said Dr. Dybwad.
For a second consecutive year, IPAC-CO2 contracted Insightrix Research, Inc. to conduct an online survey of Canadian residents. Survey responses were collected from 1,550 Canadians between May 29 and June 11.
The percentage of Canadians who are unsure whether or not they would benefit from CCS has increased notably from 42% in 2011 to 48% in 2012.
Residents of Ontario are more likely to believe that it would (33%) benefit them, while in Quebec the reverse is true, where 30% believe they would not benefit from the technology.
The proportion of Canadians who are unsure of the effectiveness of carbon capture and storage has increased notably from one quarter (24%) in 2011 to one third (35%) in 2012.
Despite the concerns many Canadians have about the technology, Dr. Dybwad remained optimistic about the future of CCS and its impact on Canada's environment.
"Canadians are concerned about the risks and benefits involved with CCS, but IPAC-CO2 exists to ensure that carbon dioxide is stored safely and permanently in the ground by providing risk and performance assessments of carbon dioxide storage projects."
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