LASER TALK: Canadian Opinions on Climate Change

Update October  2016

An October 2016 poll from Nanos found that most Canadians want federal leadership on climate change. The key findings were:

  • 77% support or somewhat support a national plan that ensures Canada achieves its international climate change targets to reduce carbon emissions.
  • 66% support or somewhat support the federal government taking action on its own to meet national climate change targets, if the provinces and territories aren’t doing enough.
  • 77% of respondents agree or somewhat agree that their province has an important responsibility to reduce carbon emissions by 2030.
  • A majority of Canadians (59%) support or somewhat support a price on carbon emissions, and 62% support or somewhat support a minimum carbon price that applies across Canada.

Update September 2016:

A September 2016 Abacus survey of national opinion explored questions around using a price or tax on carbon to help combat the challenge of climate change. Here’s what they found:

• Few people generally ask for taxes of any sort, and so it was perhaps not surprising that only 25% across the country “favour” a carbon price or tax. What was more interesting to us is the fact that not very many oppose the idea (31%). The plurality say can accept the taxation of carbon emissions.

• Liberal and NDP supporters see this more or less the same way (77% to 79% support or accept), while 62% of Conservative voters are opposed to the idea. Younger people are more supportive, but the majority of those over 45 also say they support or can accept it.

• Majorities in every region of the country support or accept the idea, although Alberta is essentially equally divided when a margin of error is considered.

– See more at:


Update December 2015:

The Globe and Mail and CTV news commissioned The Nanos Research Group to do a telephone poll of 1,000 Canadians between Nov. 21 and 24. The poll  found that 73% agree or somewhat agree that “climate change presents a significant threat to our economic future,” while only 16% disagree or somewhat disagree. The telephone survey, conducted between , carries a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. (1)

The poll finds a clear view among Canadians: 72% think the science of climate change is irrefutable, 79% believe Canada’s international reputation has been hurt by its previous efforts, and 63 % indicate they would pay more for certain products so Canada could meet its climate commitments.

nanos nov 2015.fw

Previous Polls

A December 2012 Environics Poll on climate change indicated that support for action amongst Canadians is almost back up to 2009 levels at 60%.  And this poll also indicated Canadians are willing “to pay the piper”:  57% of Canadians said it was reasonable for consumers to pay $100/year for climate change action. [2]

An April 2013 Angus Reid Poll found that 58% of Canadians know that climate change is a fact and is caused by emissions from vehicles and industrial facilities. As well, 60% of Canadians support protecting the environment, even at the risk of hampering economic growth. [3]

A July 2013 poll conducted by Harris-Decima found that Canadians clearly understand the imperative and opportunity of a low-carbon transition, and the role an integrated climate and energy strategy can play. When asked whether “We need a Canadian climate and energy strategy to plan our nation’s energy future,” a remarkable 87 per cent of Canadians agree. Furthermore, 62 per cent agree that, “A Canadian energy strategy will only be successful if it transitions Canada to a low-carbon economy.”[4]

Observations from an August 2013 Nanos poll were that North America’s energy market is “de-facto integrated”, but public policy is often fragmented and disjointed. The  Nanos’s study was comprised of original public opinion research and in-depth interviews over several months with key stakeholders and advocacy groups in the United States. It alluded to the potential causes of strained relationships between Canada and the USA particularly around the Keystone XL pipeline.

“We are desperately in need of a forthright dialogue between Canada and the United States in terms of carbon policy and the environment,” said pollster Nick Nanos in an interview from Washington, D.C. [5]

In alignment with Nanos, we at Canada’s Citizens Climate Lobby feel it is important to collaborate with our US CCL colleagues on creating  a fair and effective cross-border climate policy. We currently have 135 chapters of Citizens Climate Lobby in North America. There are CCL chapters in almost half of US congressional districts and about 40 Canadian ridings. We have been collaborating across borders since September 2010.

A November 2013 poll conducted by the University of Montreal and Canada 2020 found that 84% of Canadians believe the Canadian government should talk the lead on combating climate change AND a majority of Canadians support putting a price on carbon, with support actually increasing when told it could increase fuel or home energy prices by a specific amount (5).


(Links last checked November 28, 2015)

[1] Canadians back bold climate change action poll finds (November 2015)

[2] Climate Change: Do Canadians still care? (Environics, December 2012)

[3] Less Than Half in U.S. and Britain Believe in Man-Made Climate Change (Angus Reid, April 2013)

[4] Harris-Decima Poll – Canadians want energy strategy to deliver a low carbon solution (Clean Energy Canada, July 2013)

[5] Politics is the biggest obstacle on Canada-U.S. energy front (CBC, August 26, 2013)

[6] National Survey of Canadian and American Opinions on Climate Change (November 2013)


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